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
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
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.