Siama's Congo Roots | Music

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Siama's Congo Roots | Music

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“In Congo, music is so fun. It’s shared by everyone in the community and it’s a part of everything we do.”

Whether performing or hosting his fun educational program, Siama loves taking audiences on a delightful journey to his rural African homeland.

Siama (see-AHH-maw) experienced a joyful, adventuresome childhood in the western region of DR Congo known as "Bas Congo", so storytelling and music are in his DNA. As a teenager, he hit the city with a guitar and world-sized ambitions. His opportune enlistment by a popular band launched what would become an illustrious career. While living in Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Dubai and Japan, Siama recorded hundreds of songs and toured the world with popular artists, earning the title, “Soukous Legend”. Now in Minneapolis, he’s received a McKnight Fellowship and numerous grants and his latest kids’ CD (“The Land of Yangalele”) received a Parents' Choice Parent Approved award and a Creative Child Preferred Choice award. Through performing and hosting educational programs Siama has become known for intricate acoustic guitar, catchy songs, spirited singing and traditional African instruments like mbira (thumb piano) and balafon (marimba).

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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

Siama and his wife and musical partner Dallas Johnson have performed at places like Orchestra Hall's Sommerfest, The Ordway, Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Walker, Northrup Plaza, Hopkins Center for the Arts - Downtown Park, Selby Jazz Festival, Lowertown Guitar Festival, Pilgrimage Fest (Nashville, TN), Alys Stephen's Recital Hall (Birmingham, AL) and libraries in New Orleans, LA. They’ve presented their children’s program at hundreds of schools as well as numerous nursing homes, hospitals and in other health care settings.

In addition to being COMPAS Teaching Artists, Siama and Dallas provide elementary education programs for Classical Minnesota Public Radio’s Class Notes Artists and they recently earned World Music Pedagogy certificates from Smithsonian Folkways.

Learn more about Siama and Dallas in their June 2017 Artist Spotlight interview.

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 Solo Guitar

Siama's entrancing acoustic guitar and mbira are a wonderful enhancement to a special event.  

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Siama’s Congo Roots- Acoustic Duo or Trio

When Siama is joined by Dallas Johnson (singer/storyteller/hand percussionist) their harmonies are inspiring and their joy is contagious as they perform and encourage everyone to sing along. They can also perform as a trio, with the added musical excitement of a drummer.

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Siama’s Congo Roots-5-piece jazz band

For festivals and concerts, Siama loves bringing balafon as well as Dallas, a drummer and also a bassist and keyboardist, electrifying his Congolese folk music and adding exciting flavors of jazz, funk and more.

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Workshops

Siama’s Congo Roots - Interactive African Singing Class

During their engaging educational program, Siama sings and plays acoustic guitar and traditional African instruments like mbira and balafon while Dallas Johnson sings, plays hand percussion and tells stories that bring Siama’s happy childhood to life. From the first moment, everyone is invited on a journey to rural Africa where they move to the rhythm and sing together under the stars in Lingala, Kikongo and English while learning fun African singing styles like call-and-response and yodeling (yes!...yodeling). This charming program is a culturally-immersive experience and a big hit with audiences of all ages.

 

Songwriting

Siama and Dallas are prolific songwriters with a lifetime of experience and their encouraging, positive nature creates a fun, collaborative atmosphere that makes writing songs seem almost effortless. Enlist them to help your group write a song together or to mark a special occasion, celebrate a milestone or build a sense of community through collaborating on a song together.

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