Frank Fairfield performed American vernacular music professionally for several years, eventually realizing how mentally unfit he was for that profession. He quit the music racket and joined a crew of unlicensed construction workers servicing a hand full of unusual small museums and theater in Los Angeles. That led him to the The Yard Theater, where he now currently resides and helps run with his friend John Ennis. He still plays music, practicing the violin everyday for his own edification and occasionally performing with friends like Meredith Axelrod and The Temple Street Stringband.
Prince Diabaté hails from a prominent, Malinké family from Guinea, West Africa. He learned his art from his father, Djéli Sori Diabaté. Breaking with tradition, his father also taught Prince’s mother, Hadja Djeli Sira Cissoko, to play kora. The young boy became an exceptionally early starter by accompanying his parents to their concerts throughout West Africa. Despite his father’s disapproval, he decided to make music his life. When he was eight years old, form Guinean President, Sekou Toure, came to his home town, Kindia, for a celebration in Independence Square. Braving the outraged soldiers and his own fear, the young musician grasped his kora, threw himself at the President s feet and played a special song for him. Greatly touched by his skill and audacity, Sekou Toure became his benefactor, enrolling him in the National Children’s Theater in Conakry. At 16 years of age, in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, he stumbled upon a videocassette of Jimi Hendrix, and entered the international kora competition. Taking first prize that day ‘Prince Diabaté, Prince of the Kora’.
In 1986 he put the singer, Amara Sanoh, and the two started to perform together. In 1990 he won the “Discoveries” Award, sponsored by Radio France Internationale. After 12 successful years on the international festival circuit, touring Africa, Europe, Canada and the USA, the duo disbanded and Prince Diabaté settled in Los Angeles, USA. Prince Diabaté has released three CDs: Lamaranaa (Buda Music / Allegro) in 1993, New Life (Sunrise Records / Orchard) in 2001, which features guest artists Michael Brook and Hassan Hakmoun. His next album, Djerelon (Kora Company Collection) was recorded in Guinea, Conakry in 2006. It is arranged and produced by Kante Manfila, longtime collaborator of Salif Keita.The album won the People’s Choice Awards (Vox Populi) in the Independent Music Awards for 2007: World Music (Traditional) category. Lamarana and New Life are available as digital downloads with Virgin Islands and Djerelon is available through Itunes.
Considered to be one of the leading kora players of his generation, Prince Diabaté does not have a total mastery over his ancestral tradition, but a commitment to renew it through fresh ideas and exchanges with musicians from many cultures. His New York Symphony Orchestra, Adam del Monte (Flamenco) Hassan Hakmoun (Gnawa) and Grammy winners Michael Brook (guitarist-producer-composer) and Ozomatli (Hip-Hop fusion .) The musically adventurous griot has incorporated reggae, rap and blues into his work, and further developing his “Jimi Hendrix” technical, also punctuates his work by the occasional, funky use of the wah-wah pedal. Recently, he has adapted the music of the Wassolou to his repertoire, which he plays, self-taught and kora-style, on the kamelen n’goni. The result is entirely his own creation: a fresh, powerful brand of twenty-first century Manden music, which remains firmly rooted in traditional codes and references.
In 2001, he recorded with Ozomatli on “Embrace The Chaos,” their Grammy-winning CD. In 2002, he was nominated for the LA Weekly Music Awards and the New Times Music Awards. He was also a finalist in the International Acoustic Music Awards for 2004; the Unisong Contest for 2005-2006; the International Songwriting Contest for 2004 & 2005; and took first prize in the 2005 and 2006 Pacific Songwriting Competition.His work has attracted grants from Arts International; Alliance for California Traditional Arts; Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department and the Durfee Foundation. Prince Diabaté also maintains an active schedule as a lecturer on aspects of Mandinka music. His clients to date include colleges and universities in California, Washington State and New York. He is also sought after for film and television projects in Hollywood.
These days Prince Diabaté divides his time between France, the USA and Guinea and is often on the move, performing with his group.At the end of 2013 the Prince Diabaté Academy of Music was officially launched in Guinea. This new academy, the first privately-funded establishment in Guinea, is the result of Prince Diabaté’s desire to create an international music school specializing in stringed instruments and traditional flute. Thanks to the encouragement of government ministers, construction is underway and the foundation stone was laid in December 2013.
Afrikasa is a 4 piece ensemble – Nana Kwakye, Kofi Ameyaw, Chief Suale and Marwan Mograbi – playing neo classical African music primarily from Ghana. They performed at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music as part of their Artnight Program and other shows in Los Angeles during the Fall of 2018.
Immense amounts of wonder and power are often found tucked away in the most dark and unpredictable parts of the ocean. In much the same way, immense amounts of wonder and power can be found throughout Brooklyn, NY solo artist Oceantor’s work– even in the most dark and unpredictable moments.
Elise Okusami has been a musician since the tender age of 9 years old when she first learned to play guitar. Her current force of nature quality is clearly inspired by a lifelong intense passion for music. In the 4th grade, soon after learning guitar, Okusami started her first band with her brother and a few friends. She hasn’t slowed since then, also having drummed for multiple projects in New York. As she eventually grew into her solo musical endeavor, Oceanator, Okusami has exemplified the sheer power of her project’s namesake through and through.
The influence of her upbringing in 90’s grunge and punk is evident in Okusami’s introspective songwriting. This thoughtful lyricism is put into practice through brooding post-rock ballads like “Coming Home” and “Tell Me” and intense yet danceable synthy indie tracks like “Not Around.” Additionally, Okusami can often be heard engaging with some of the most deeply moving and existential questions of life in her work. A prime example of such a question would be ‘What does it mean to be human?’, which can be heard being contemplated in “Inhuman.” While there surely is a range to Oceanator’s stylistic approaches from song to song, the tremendous powerhouse nature of the project is felt consistently throughout each and every song on Lows. (bio by Delaney Motter)