Artist Profiles: Wofa

Wofa means ‘come together’ in the Soso dialect of Guinea. It also represents the combined energy of some of the finest young performers of West African drumming and dance. The seven male musicians and three female dancers have worked together since 1993 under the artistic directorship of master drummer Fran?ois Kolelaere and have become one of the premiere independent performance troupes in West Africa. They link past and present, combining traditional culture with contemporary presentation style.

Wofa’s performances, driven by the strong pulse and polyrhythms of Guinean music, feature a myriad of drums and rhythm instruments. These include jembe (lead drum), dunun (bass drum), bala (marimba), and wassakhoumba (similar to multiple castanets, usually reserved for ritual ceremonies), as well as singing and dancing. The explosive power of the ensemble has met with tremendous audience response around the world.

They participated in the MASA 95 festival of African culture in Ivory Coast and played on the Champs Elys?es for the 200th Anniversary Bastille Day celebration. The group has toured extensively through Europe, Asia and North America including a 1998 residency in the French Caribbean and concerts from Los Angeles to Alaska. Wofa have two CDs on the Musique du Monde label.

Lead drummer Aboubacar Fatouabou Camara belongs to a lineage of great Guinean musicians. Performing since the age of 14, he was a student of Mamady Keita and spent 10 years with the National Ballet Djoliba, before co-founding the National Percussion Ensemble of Guinea. Camara is part of a forty year legacy of professional dance in Guinea. All of the large national dance companies of West Africa were inspired by Guinean groups such as Ballets Africains and Ballet Djoliba. The players of Wofa combine their touring activity with performances at celebrations and ritual ceremonies at home, uniting a powerful artistic heritage and a still thriving traditional culture.

Discography:

Rhythm & Songs from Coastal Region of Guinea (Buda Musique, 1995)
Guinea-Martinique (Buda Musique, 1997)
Iyo: A Concert of Percussions (Buda Musique, 2001)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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