Master drummer in the final stages of liver cancer
Artist biography Obo Addy
Obo Addy was one of the first native African musicians to bring the fusion of traditional folk music and western pop music, known as worldbeat, to Europe and the United States. The master drummer, songwriter, recording artist and teacher was born in Accra, the capital of Ghana in 1936.
Obo Addy has had a passion for West African hand-drumming since the age of 5. He is one of the 55 children of a medicine man - called a wonche - and was raised in a home where daily ceremonies included dancing, singing and drumming. He was influenced as a teenager by popular music from Europe and the United States and performed in local bands that played westernized music and the dance music of Ghana known as highlife.
The drummer was employed by the Arts Council of Ghana in 1969, and he and a few of his brothers played their native Ga traditional music in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. The Addy brothers moved to London and performed internationally until the mid-1970s, when Obo Addy moved to Seattle to teach, and then to Portland a short time later.
Obo Addy created the Homowo African Arts and Cultures organization, worked with the Young Audiences program, and taught music at Lewis and Clark College, Portland State University, Lincoln High School, community centers and other venues. He was awarded a master's fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission and Regional Arts & Culture Council, and the Oregon Governor's Award for the Arts. In 1996, Obo Addy became the first native African to win a National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts - the highest honor a traditional artist can receive in the United States.