After 32 years of introducing people to the positive music and culture of Ghana, the Obo Addy Legacy Project (OALP) will be closing.
Portland, Oregon, July 9, 2018- Based in Portland, OR and founded in 1986, the Obo Addy Legacy Project was the Pacific Northwest region’s first African arts organization operating under their first name: Homowo African Arts and Cultures.
After a serious illness and subsequent recovery, Susan Addy, decided that it was time to retire. Susan has been the Executive Director of OALP since its inception in 1986. Susan has worked with nonprofit organizations since 1973 when she helped to create the Hood River Valley Arts and Crafts Society, which has since become the Mid-Columbia Arts Council and the Columbia Art Gallery.
Working in public, charter, private schools, and colleges of Oregon since 1986, co-founder and Executive Director Susan Addy continued to guide traditional artists from Ghana in sharing their culture through residencies, classes, and performances and celebrated cultural diversity by bringing authentic African rhythms and traditions to these stages, schools, and communities of the world, broadening their educational settings. The music and curriculum were based on the teachings of the legendary master percussionist, composer, and educator Obo Addy.
Over the years, OALP sponsored events and activities that allowed audiences and students to see the African roots of more familiar, popular music; how musical forms are intricately woven into the fabric of everyday life; music as a personal career choice; and the ways in which all cultures share ideas. OALP used captivating performance featuring a large cast of musicians and dancers to bring the excitement of African music and dance into the Portland area schools such as Open Meadow Middle School, Cleveland High School, Cesar Chavez School, Rosa Parks School and Sunnyside Environmental School. OALP used an overview of rhythm, movement, storytelling, and singing in traditional Ghanaian culture and workshops to introduce the drumming and dance in their techniques specific to Ghana, West Africa.
OALP’s resident performing troupe Okropong, which means “eagle”, has reached over 1.2 million people since the organization’s beginnings. Okropong performs traditional dance and music from various ethnic cultures in Ghana, West Africa including Ga, Ewe, Ashanti, Dagomba and Dagarti. Using a variety of hand and stick drums, talking drums, bells and shakers, the musicians build layers of driving rhythms while the dancers engage in an energetic conversation with the drummers.
OALP partnered with both Young Audiences and with The Right Brain Initiative, a program of The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), which brings arts integration to K-8 schools in the tri-county region. As Right Brain teaching artists, OALP engaged students in kinesthetic learning, collaboration, and creativity through drumming instruction, while exploring the social, cultural and historical roles of music and rhythm from various cultures of Ghana. Our dancers and musicians are all traditional artists from Ghana, West Africa. Many of the members of Okropong, have danced with the National Dance Company of Ghana and in front of many heads of states, including President Clinton, Queen Elizabeth, and Tabo Nbeki, the President of South Africa.
Obo Addy Legacy Project has employed them for 2-18 years. They were hired through recruiting and interviewing in Ghana. Since OALP invested much more into their artists, by working with INS to bring them from Ghana, they looked for individuals with exceptional skills as both performers and teachers. Over the years OALP brought 29 drummers and dancers originally from Ghana to make their home in Portland.
In September 2012 Obo Addy died of liver cancer. He had been struggling with cancer for about ten years but managed to keep performing and teaching. Susan continued his legacy.
“I think Obo’s biggest accomplishment was introducing so many people to the positive music and culture of Ghana” states Executive Director, Susan Addy.
The final performance of Okropong, OALP’s performance troupe, occurred on July 5, 2018 at the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, Oregon. The Obo Addy Legacy Project will cease daily operations immediately.
We thank the community for your amazing support throughout the years and we hope to see you at our celebration on August 22nd!
Accomplishments of the Obo Addy Legacy Project:
- Provided Teaching Artists with the Right Brain Initiative since the program began in 2010.
- Three years of successful programming in collaboration with the Oregon Youth Authority.
- 15 years of producing the Homowo Festival of African Arts:
- 14 years of producing the Homowo African Arts Summer Camp
- Cultural Connections Residency in Portland – collaborations with schools throughout the region.
- Dance~4~Life- A residency bringing together African dance and nutrition.
- National Touring- From NYC Town Hall to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC to NJPAC in Newark to PSU in Portland.
- Collaborations with Portland Taiko, Mary Osland, Nora Chipaumire and Solo Bodolo and Kemba Shannon.
- 27 years of excellent outreach and introducing audiences to the music and sensibility of Ghana.
A celebration to honor the work of Obo and Susan Addy will be held on August 22, 2018 at 6:00 pm at the
Lagunitas Community Room
237 NE Broadway St #300
Portland, OR 97232
For tickets and further event information, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/edit?eid=47538201039
Bring home a piece of the Obo Addy Legacy Project that evening, they will have CD’s, drums, costumes, fabrics and other small goods for sale.
For specific questions about the Obo Addy Legacy Project, please send us an e-mail at email@example.com
Thank you once again for your support throughout the years! We hope to see you on August 22nd.