Agalu is led by Akeem Ayanniyi, who is the ninth generation of his family to play the traditional Yoruba talking drum. Ayanniyi, from the Western Nigerian town of Erin Oshun near the historic art center of Oshogbo, has been performing since the age of five and has toured much of Africa as well as Germany, Brazil, Sweden and the United States as a performer and teacher. He settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1993 and founded Agalu in 1998.
The other members of Agalu include Nigerian percussionists Ayo Adeyemi, Tunde Ojeyemi and Gasali Adeyemo who expertly play djembe, djun djun, ashiko and bata drums. Accomplished masquerade dancer, Femi Adebayo makes magic from inside fantastic masked costumes. Jamilat Ilesanmi and Sassy Ross bring audiences to their feet with infectiously energetic dance performances. Many of Agalu's members are also traditional textile artists who use their skill to create the troupe's colorful costumes.
Agalu has performed at:
Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Detroit Historical Museum
National Black Theater, Harlem, New York
New Mexico State Capitol Building
Texas State Capitol Building
University of Iowa
Clarke College, Dubuque, Iowa
Televised performance for Northern Arizona University
University of the Virgin Islands
Santa Fe Community College
Camp Verde Performing Arts Center, Arizona
Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
College of Santa Fe
Clovis Community College
University of Wisconsin, Racine
Railyard Performance Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Children's Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ethnic Fair, Clovis/Curry County, New Mexico
Cultural Festival, Amarillo, Texas
Arts Festivals: New Mexico, Massachusetts, Indiana, Arizona
Outpost Performance Space, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Festival for the Goddess of Clay, Gloucester, Massachusetts
New Mexico State Fair
Ifa Foundation of North America
Afrikadey!, Calgary, Canada
Odunde Festival, Seattle, Washington
Heritage Days Festival, St. Helena Island, South Carolina
Remo Recreational Music Center, North Hollywood, CA
International Museum of Culture, Dallas, TX
Material Culture, Philadelphia, PA
University of New Mexico Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Albuquerque, NM BB King’s Blues Club, Universal City, CA
Motherland Music, Los Angeles, CA
Drum is the Voice of the Tree Festival, College of Santa Fe
Outside In, Santa Fe, NM,
Oya Festival, Club Algeria, Santa Fe
Santa Fe Jazz & International Music Festival, Lensic Performing Arts Center
- .About Nigeria and the Yoruba people:
The members of Agalu belong to the Yoruba tribe who live in southwestern Nigeria and number about 18 million. In the indigenous Yoruba religion, Ifa, drumming, singing and dancing are considered forms of prayer. Songs and rhythms honor various orishas, gods and goddesses who embody natural forces and assist the One Creator. Yoruba rhythms have spread throughout the world and form the basis of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian percussion.
Nigeria is located on the Gulf of Guinea, where West and Central Africa meet. It's approximately the size of California, Arizona and New Mexico combined with a population of over 100 million. The oil-rich country is made up of diverse climates that range from the Sahara desert in the north to tropical forests and coastal swamps along the Gulf of Guinea in the south.
Akeem Ayanniyi leads Agalu. The "Ayan" prefix of Akeem's name Ayanniyi, indicates that he descends from a family lineage that can be traced back 700 years to the Yoruba deity of drumming, Ayan Agalu. As the ninth generation of his family to play the traditional Yoruba talking drum, Akeem, is from the Western Nigerian town of Erin Oshun near the historic art center of Oshogbo.He has been performing since the age of five and has, as a performer and teacher, toured much of Africa as well as Germany, Brazil, Sweden and the United States. Akeem settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in 1993 and founded Agalu in 1998.
Tunde Ojeyemi, who is also from Erin Oshun, has toured throughout the U.S., Europe and Japan. Tunde electrifies audiences with his mastery of bata, the "thunder drums" associated with the Yoruba Orisha, Shango, deity of thunder and lightning.
Ayo Adeyemi was born in Ijebu, Nigeria where he was initiated as a babalawo in the indigenous Yoruba religion, Ifa. He is a master of djembe and djun djun, who has been drumming, singing and dancing since he was a child. In the 1980s, Ayo, whose name means "happy", came to America where he lived and toured with renowned Yoruba master drummer Babatunde Olatunji for eight years. In the 1990s, Ayo was proprietor of Yoruba House in West Los Angeles. Today, he is touring with Agalu to offer his music and teachings to a wider audience. As a vocalist, Ayo rouses audiences when he joyously sings the praises of the Yoruba deities. Guest performers from Nigeria often join the Agalu ensemble.
For bookings, drum classes, workshops, drum sales and repairs, contact:
1631 Calle Sotero, Santa fe, N.M, 87507.
Phone: 505 920-4656
Enjoy exciting African rhythms at home with the Agalu: Spirit of the Drum CD