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, this McKnight Fellow received an MRAC Next Step grant to create a new album of songs for kids (coming in 2017) and with the help of an MSAB Artist Initiative grant, his new album ("Rivers") is garnering enthusiastic reviews and airplay the world-over.
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Siama really enjoys playing music with young audiences at places like Ordway Theatre/Flint Hill’s Children’s Festival, Children’s Hospital Star Studio, Intermedia Arts’ Family Arts Day, MacPhail’s Family Day, Global Market’s Wee Wednesdays and Family Days. He often performs for Family Days at Minneapolis Institute of Art where he enjoyed a summer residency in 2016 and he's hosted music sessions for social service programs like Southside Nurturing Center and Banyan Community. Siama also enjoys making music with lifelong learners and in 2016 he taught a songwriting residency with young men from Woodland Hills in Duluth.
Siama’s Congo Music: Happy Music from the Heart of Africa
Whether performing solo guitar or as an acoustic duo, trio or quartet, Siama takes audiences on a danceable and transfixing journey through DR Congo, East Africa and beyond. Featuring Siama's spirited vocals and masterful, arpeggiated guitar playing, everyone's encouraged to sing along in Kikongo, Swahili and Lingala while learning traditional African singing styles (like yodeling and call-and-response) and how to play African rhythms while experiencing the welcoming, celebratory nature of African music.
Siama's Solo Guitar
Siama's known for his melodic, catchy hooks and intricate guitar style. His solo guitar makes great background music for a special dinner or event.
Siama & Dallas
Siama (guitar/vocals) is often joined by Dallas Johnson (vocals/hand percussion/ukulele/thumb piano). Their voices were made for each other and their joy is evident as they perform and encourage everyone to sing along.
Siama’s Afrobilly Trio
Featuring Siama and Dallas with Mikkel Beckmen on American Traditional instruments like washboard bringing a fun, old time American flavor to Siama's Congolese folk music.
Siama’s Congo Roots Quartet
Featuring Siama, Dallas, marimba player Brian Van Tassel and percussionist and harmonica player Tim O'Keefe, their captivating sounds of marimba, likembe (thumb piano), drums, African harmonies and Siama's signature guitar style bring the uplifting music of rural Congo to life.
Siama's Congo World Quartet
Featuring Siama and Dallas along with cellist Jacqueline Ultan and percussionist Tim O'Keefe, this quartet creates a unique fusion by blending a colorful palette of musical influences with Siama's traditional Congolese music, resulting in an uplifting and spirited tapestry filled with lush textures and dramatic nuance.
Siama and Dallas’ 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.
Siama and Dallas love teaching how to sing the Congolese way because it feels so good! Learn to breathe deeply from the diaphragm to produce a big, uninhibited vocal sound, try emulating Siama's unique yodeling style (yes, yodeling!) and sing in the call-and-response style of the Mbenga people from Eastern DR Congo.
Siama is a prolific composer with an effortless approach and Dallas has a lifetime of experience writing songs. Enlist them to help your group write a song together in order to mark a special occasion, to celebrate a milestone or to build a sense of community through collaborating on a song together.
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