Siama's Afrobilly | Music

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Siama's Afrobilly | Music

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When I perform, I want people to feel they’re traveling to DR Congo with us so they can feel really happy and see how welcoming African culture is. Music is a gift to the world and it’s so wonderful to sing and celebrate together.

Congolese guitarman Siama has enjoyed an incredible career since the 1970s-80s when he recorded hundreds of radio hits with some of the biggest names in soukous music. Now based in Minneapolis, he was awarded a McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians in 2014 and an MRAC Next Step grant in 2016 to create a new album of songs for kids. With financial help from a MSAB Artist Initiative grant, he recently released a critically-acclaimed genre-spanning album (“RIVERS – from the Congo to the Mississippi”).

 

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It’s truly inspiring to see Siama work with children. He not only shares his great musical talent with them, but also generously provides the opportunity to creatively express themselves through music.
— Dayna Martinez: Artistic Director of the International Children’s Festival - Ordway Center for the Performing Arts

He’s performed for lifelong learners (at Ebenezer), in June 2016 he taught a week-long songwriting residency with young men from Woodland Hills in Duluth (thanks to another MSAB grant) and he keeps busy doing interactive performances with young audiences at Children’s Hospital Star Studio program, Ordway Theatre’s Flint Hill’s Children’s Festival, Intermedia Arts’ Family Arts Day, MacPhail’s Family Day, Global Market’s Wee Wednesdays and social service programs like Southside Nurturing Center and Banyan Community. Also, throughout the summer of 2016 he was invited to do a mini residency, performing for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ monthly Family Days.

I’ve never been to the Congo, but after having Siama’s Afrobilly perform for our Early Childhood concert series, I feel like I got the chance to live there! I am so grateful for the time and care they took to put together a program that would not only entertain but educate and engage our children and their families.
— Ivory Doublette: Early Childhood Music Department - MacPhail Center for Music

Sample Programs: Customizable To Site’s Needs

Performances

Siama’s Afrobilly: A Rhythmic Journey Through Africa’s Joyous Music

Siama’s performances are a rhythmic musical journey through DR Congo, East Africa and beyond. He encourages the audience to sing along in Kikongo, Swahili and Lingala, learning traditional African singing styles and how to play the clave rhythm as they experience first-hand how African music is an open invitation.

Siama & Dallas

Featuring: Siama (guitar/vocals) and Dallas Johnson (vocals/percussion)

Siama tells fun stories about growing up in rural DR Congo and encourages the audience to sing and clap along to simple, happy songs.

 

Siama’s Afrobilly (trio) and Siama’s Afrobilly Blue (quartet)

Siama tells fun stories about growing up in rural DR Congo and encourages everyone to play hand percussion instruments and sing along in Kikongo, Lingala and Swahili. A really special aspect of this program is learning to sing in traditional Congolese style. Learn to breathe with the diaphragm in order to produce the big African vocal sound, how to yodel Congo-style and how to sing in the call-and-response style of the Pygmy people. We modify the program based on age and ability.

Siama’s Afrobilly features Siama (guitar/vocals), Dallas Johnson (vocals/percussion) & Mikkel Beckmen (washboard and djembe).

Siama’s Afrobilly Blue features Siama (guitar/vocals), Dallas Johnson (vocals/percussion), Jacqueline Ultan (cello) & Tim O’Keefe (percussion/harmonica).

 

Siama and Dallas’s Instrument Petting Zoo

Featuring: Siama (guitar/vocals) and Dallas Johnson (vocals/percussion)

Siama brings lots of fun percussion instruments so young kids and their families can play along as he tells fun stories about growing up in rural DR Congo and encourages everyone to sing simple, happy songs. This is a wonderful, highly interactive addition to events, festivals and block parties.

 

Workshops

Siama and Dallas teach engaging workshops covering fun sing-alongs, African vocal techniques and rhythms and they also host songwriting workshops where the class can write songs together.