Ghana – American professor Julie Strand reported today the passing of Kakraba Lobi. He died on Friday, July 20, at Ridge Hospital in Accra, Ghana. "Kakraba Lobi was one of the foremost players of the Lobi xylophone and was one of the first Ghanaian musicians of this instrument to record and tour outside of Africa," said Julie Strand, visiting instructor of Lewis & Clark College’s Summer Program in Ghana. "The popularity of the Lobi xylophone in the US and Europe is due in large part to his work."
"He also worked extensively with Dr. J.H.K. Nketia, performed regularly on Ghanaian state radio, and held a long-standing post with the Ghana Dance Ensemble at the University of Ghana in Legon. His career blazed a trail for subsequent xylophonists and other musicians from Ghana to build their careers abroad, and he has instructed countless students over the decades. His loss is greatly felt by the musical community here in Ghana."Kakraba Lobi was born in Kalba Saru in northern Ghana in 1939. For over twenty years, he taught at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon.
One of the few masters of the complex Ghanaian percussion instrument gyil, Kakrabi gained international reputation as a concert soloist. In addition to performing throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, Kakrabi also lectured to ethnomusicologists at universities worldwide.
In recent years he collaborated with American percussionist Valerie Dee Naranjo and multi-instrumentalist Barry Olsen. As a trio, they recorded Da Yillena (Wood That Sings), Song Of Niira and Song of Legaa.
The gyil is an ancient xylophone that requires great mastery to play. It is the national instrument of the Dagara and Lobi nations of Ghana, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.