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Osubi Craig and the Prophecy Music Project

Osubi Craig and the Prophecy Music Project

Osubi Craig is a third generation percussionist, performing artist, ensemble director, rhythmic composer and arts educator. Through years of travel in Cuba, Brazil and Trinidad, and study with African percussion masters, Osubi has honed his skills as a presenter of the African Diaspora's cultural arts. His musical talents shine in many performance genres including jazz music, modern dance accompaniment, and traditional African dance and music. His "creation of mini-improvisational compositions... [is] nothing short of phenomenal," according to the Lincoln Center Institute.

Programs include "Tracing Music from Africa to America Through the Drum;" "Rhythm Rhapsody and Songs," an exhibition of West African rhythms, songs and historical folklore; and "Connections," highlighting the sounds of Africa found in Caribbean and South American music. Residency activities include drum-making and musical rhythms workshops, lecture/demonstrations, and programs for children of all ages.

Osubi Craig has served as the director of Dromatala, a community traditional based West African Percussion and Dance Ensemble, since the group was organized in 1993. As a by-product of the nearly forty year-old Pan-African cultural movement and a 3rd generation percussionist, he has been involved in many organizations committed to the preservation and perpetuation of African and African-American culture. He has served as musical director for the Children of the Diaspora (New York, NY) and the African Caribbean Dance Theatre (Tallahassee, FL); founder of the Lions of Judah Drumming Battery (Gainesville, FL); and as both musical and artistic director of Florida A&M University’s renowned Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theatre (Tallahassee, FL). He was the first student to serve as a director of this company. He also performed with the symphonic, jazz and marching bands while he attended and graduated from Florida A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and a minor in Jazz Studies.

Osubi has studied with master drummers Abi Odun McCray, Chief Bey, Nana Dinizulu, Malik Sau, Mor Thiam, and Mbemba Bangoura, and has performed at such venues as the African Street Festival (New York, NY), Dance Africa (New York, NY), the Montreux Jazz Festival (Montreux, Switzerland) and the North Sea Jazz Festival (Den Haag, Holland). He has performed with Jerry Gonzales and the Fort Apache Band, and has been a contracted musician for Urban Bush Women, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, as well as lead djimbe drummer for Kulu Mele African American Drum and Dance Ensemble (Philadelphia, PA). In the summer 2001, Craig successfully wrote for funding from Arts International, and organized and led a trip for his 24 drummers, dancers, and singers representing Dromatala to Santiago de Cuba to represent America at the 21st Annual Festival De Caribe and Festivals of Fire. Dromatala was the first African American Company to ever perform at these Festivals. Craig is interested in the continuous innovation of the African centered cultural movement and moreover, traditional West African music and dance in America and around the world.

Craig currently serves simultaneously as Artistic and Musical Director of Dromatala (Philadelphia, PA and Tallahassee, FL) and Associate Director of Prophecy Dance Works (New York, NY). He is also a staff musician for Alvin Ailey American Dance School (New York, NY) Arts in Education program, an artist in the Philly Pops (Philadelphia, PA), Lincoln Center Institute (New York), and NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Art Center) (Newark, NJ) Arts in Education Programs. Craig is a roster artist on the New Jersey Councils on the Arts Artist directories and the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, which recognized him by funding his travels to study hand and stick percussion at Carnaval 2002 in Salvador Bahia, Brazil. Craig was again added to the prestigious Pennsylvania Artist on tour Roster for 2005 just after traveling back to Salvador Bahia, Brazil to study hand percussion with world-renowned percussionists Ile Aiye.

Nzinga Metzger has been a student of traditional West African dance since 1991, when she began to study dances from the Old Mali Empire with Nia Love at the Florida State University. From 1991 to 1995, her study focused on the dances of the Old Mali/Senegambian region of West Africa with a special interest in the historical and present day contexts of these dances and their socio-religious functions. During this period, she also acted as dancer/choreographer with the Orchesis Contemporary Dance Theatre at FAMU in Tallahassee, FL. Later, Ms. Metzger joined Barefoot Ballet in Atlanta, GA, where she studied the dances of Senegal under Linda Faye Bayo. Ms. Metzger joined Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble in Philadelphia, PA in 1997, and, as a member at large, is part of the ensemble’s newest generation of performers. As a proud member of Kulu Mele African American Dance Ensemble, she widens her knowledge of dances from Old Mali/Senegambia and has added Afro-Cuban dances from the orisa tradition to her repertoire.

Ms. Metzger is also a student of another aspect of the Afro-Cuban cultural tradition, namely the singing of oriki or songs dedicated to the orisa of the Yoruba faith. Her journey with song started in 1998 when she began singing oriki with a congregation of which she was a member. There, she began to learn songs associated with both the Egungun (ancestors) and the orisa (divinities). In 1999 she studied the oriki until she made the acquaintances of master bata player and Pew artist Greg ‘Peachy’ Jarman, with whom she continues to apprentice, and akpon Olufemi DeWindt, a very well-known akpon from New York with whom she also apprentices. Ms. Metzger has also augmented her study and knowledge of African history, art and culture by receiving her Master’s degree in history from Temple University in 1999. She has decided to further deepen her intellectual development by studying cultural anthropology at Florida State University where she is in pursuit her doctorate.

Richard C. Robinson, Jr. is an educator, folklorist and musician. His work is an outgrowth of an African and Caribbean folk arts movement in Philadelphia that has been in place for just about 50 years. A student of traditional African and Caribbean folk arts since he was a teenager, in 1989 Richard began to study the physically challenging West African stilt masquerade dance called "Chakaba" from master masquerade folklorist Author "Kofi" Driscoll. Those teachings included danceand hands-on playing of traditional hand and stick percussion from all over Africa and the Diaspora. In addition to his apprenticeship with Driscoll, Richard has honed his craft through more than two decades of active support and membership with Ibeji Performing Arts Company (Philadelphia, PA), Jassu Ballet (Philadelphia, PA), Spirit of Sankofa (Philadelphia, PA) and African Heritage (Washington, DC). He also studied under master African and Caribbean percussionists and dancers Renaldo Gonzales, Robert "Baba" Crowder, Abdoulaye Sylla, Yamoussa Camara, Mbemba Bangoura, Greg "Peachy" Jarman, Greg "Hodari" Banks and Melvin Deal.

Richard has toured nationally and internationally as a stilt dancer and musician with several Philadelphia-based African dance and percussion ensembles while attending high school and college. He has performed at such venues as the Lincoln Center (New York, NY), Kennedy Center (Washington D.C.), Mann Music Center (Philadelphia, PA), Freedom Theater (Philadelphia, PA) and the Academy of Music (Philadelphia, PA). From 1993 to 1997 he was musical director and guest artist of Penn State University's renowned Nommo Performing Arts Company (State College, PA). He also performed with rock, hiphop and jazz bands while earning a bachelor's degree in Communications from Penn State.

Richard works extensively with children throughout the tristate area in schools and community organizations, where he passes on the traditional values of African and Caribbean Creole culture. He has collaborated with the Philly Pops Arts in Education Outreach Program, Perkins Center for the Arts, Strings for Schools and The Philadelphia Free Library. In these programs he presents workshops, performances and classes that emphasize the ideals, which are still relevant in today's world, taught through musicianship in traditional African societies. Through participation, the students learn to value the attributes necessary to be a musician and performing artist: commitment, discipline, respect, leadership and teamwork. Richard also teaches the students how to understand the importance of collaboration and the interdependence of community support that are inherent in African and Caribbean cultures.

Richard currently serves simultaneously as executive director for Dromatala and Dzifa Mask Dance Theatre (Philadelphia, PA) and arts in education musician for Imani- Edutainers (Lancaster, PA). He is also a staff musician for several jazz and world percussion groups such as Dialects Band (Philadelphia, PA), Sonic Liberation Front (Philadelphia, PA), Doc Gibbs (Philadelphia, PA), Osubi Craig and The Prophecy Music Project (Philadelphia, PA) and Kule Mele (Philadelphia, PA). In the spring of 2003, Richard completed a three month artist residency on the Island of Cuba, where he studied the fundamentals of traditional and non-traditional Afro-Cuban percussion. A year later, Richard successfully completed a musical artist exchange in Salvador Bahia, Brazil that allowed him to study hand and stick percussion with world-renowned samba percussionist Ile Aiye. This year appears to be as promising for Richard as he will be producing a full evening-length world musical opus entitled "A Touch Culture: Afro-Music Rebirth".

Kwame Azalius Ross—artist, musician, choreographer, director, priest— has been a working artist since the age of nine. Being raised by dancing artists Juanita Ross and Azalius B. Ross, Kwame has experienced a life of artistic investigations. As a performer he has worked with Africa 1 Dance Theater, Children of Dahomey, Viva Brazil, Forces of Nature, Song and Dance Company of Mozambique, the National Dance Theater of Nigeria, and Urban Bush Women. His leadership spans from former Associate Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women, to former Cultural Ambassador of Egypt, to current Founder and Artistic Director of KAR Dance Project. He has been commissioned by numerous organizations Long Island University, Florida A&M University, Tulane University, Lincoln Center Festival, Carnegie Hall, St. Marks Church Dance Project, Riverside Church, Cutno Artist Group, and Cairo Opera House Modern Dance Theater. Kwame A. Ross' work is based on the belief that every soul can express itself, when given the moment and platform to voice their opinion. It is his intention to provide such platforms for expression for freedom of mind, body and spirit. Mr. Ross has studied extensively in four continents, giving a dialogue of expression of unlimited expression. He has received funding from Puffin Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Dance USA, Harkness Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts. Presently Mr. Ross is developing a performance art work around the last fifty years of the independence of Africa. A Work titled “Our Democracy”, to premiere in June of 2007. Also, as a collaboration with the Cutno Artist Group, of Augusta, Ga., he is developing a Gospel play titled “ Come Sunday” to be produced in the spring of 2008.

http://www.prophecymusicproject.org/home.htm

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