VEDA MELA LA, LOS ANGELES (CA), NOVEMBER 7TH-8TH 2015


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Vedas (noun; plural): The most ancient Hindu scriptures from the Vedic period in India; written in early Sanskrit and containing philosophy and guidance on ritual.

Mela (noun; Sanskrit): A meeting, an assembly, a cultural fair, a spiritual gathering.

Veda MeLA is a unique celebration of the massive modern emergence of arts and sciences inspired by the Vedas. Blossoming in the cultural hub of Downtown Los Angeles, Veda MeLA creates an unparalleled educational, inspirational, and safe space for the burgeoning subculture of Yogis and Vedic enthusiasts to explore, learn, and grow on every level.

Featuring:

Globally-celebrated speakers, authors, yogi(ni)s, and social change activists
Beyond-introductory topics in Yoga, Ayurveda, Jyotish, Vastu, Mantra, Meditation, and Yantra
In-depth 1.25-hour workshops and yoga classes
3-hour immersions with master teachers
A schedule that supports ease in the experience
Open concerts during workshop breaks
An energetically-aligned and beautiful venue with fantastic exhibitors
100% of net profit from our incredible fundraising events go directly to YogaGivesBack and Mother Om Mission!

You may get more info and purchase tickets here: http://www.vedamela.com/tickets/

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YOUSSOU N’DOUR, LOS ANGELES (CA), NOVEMBER 6TH 2015


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Dubbed as “One of the World’s greatest singers” by Rolling Stone Magazine, Senegal’s own Youssou N’Dour will be performing at Walt Disney Concert Hall. You may purchase tickets here: http://www.laphil.com/tickets/youssou-ndour/2015-11-06

Born in Dakar in 1959, Youssou N’Dour is a passionate singer, composer, bandleader, and producer whose strikingly expressive voice transformed both the mbalax music of his native Senegal and Western pop. N’Dour returns to the U.S. in September 2014 with his band, the Super Étoile, who have recorded and toured the world with N’Dour for nearly 30 years. With his traditional griot oral history, Wolof lyrics, and praise-singing with Afro-Cuban arrangements N’Dour was named “African Artist of the Century” by the English publication fRoots and to the TIME 100— Time magazine’s annual list of “the hundred men and women whose power, talent, or moral example is transforming the world.” N’Dour was the subject of the documentary I Bring What I Love, about Senegal’s divided reaction to his Grammy Award-winning album Egypt, a deeply spiritual album dedicated to a more tolerant view of Islam (both the album and the documentary soundtrack were released by Nonesuch). In 2013 N’Dour was awarded Sweden’s prestigious Polar Music Prize.

He has traced the roots of his griot (traditional oral historian) heritage, and explored his Muslim faith and its sonic impact by collaborating with Egyptian musicians, winning a Grammy for his efforts.

For N’Dour, this freedom and directness translates into a stronger medium for the messages that he, too, has dedicated his career to spreading. His voice has launched Senegalese social movements (“Set” became a rallying cry for urban youth activists in 1994). His songs have whipped up international support in the fight against malaria (2009’s “Fight Malaria”) and for women’s rights (1989’s “Shaking the Tree” with Peter Gabriel), to name just a few of the issues N’Dour has addressed. His work as a UNICEF ambassador—and as a global pop star dubbed “the world’s most famous singer” by Rolling Stone—has taken him across the planet.

On his travels, the importance of those who had gone before hit home, musicians like Bob Marley who hailed from long-denigrated places and yet managed to parlay powerful music into global stardom and a new social consciousness. “When I started traveling, I started seeing how Bob Marley had affected the world. I saw how someone from an underdeveloped country can become a star, someone who’s really loved,” N’Dour explains. “He was my example. I knew looking at Bob Marley that I could do my music from Senegal and touch the world.”

“Reggae gives you more space than mbalax. You have more room to breathe,” N’Dour reflects. “You know the rhythm and the emotion, exactly what the song is saying to you. It’s very direct at its heart.”

In reggae, N’Dour also heard the powerful transits that music from Africa made, as slavery ripped people and sounds from their homelands: “When people were taken from Africa, the music left, too.” Reggae’s African heart had long intrigued N’Dour, whether listening to Marley songs in the market or at home on his uncle’s records. He fantasized about taking his catchy yet moving songs and letting them unfold in a new reggae context.

TASTE OF SOUL 2015, LOS ANGELES (CA), OCTOBER 17TH 2015


Taste of Soul LA  2015 is one of the most anticipated events of the city as 300,000 plus residents flood the Baldwin-Hills Crenshaw area to taste American Soul food as well as various foods from the Carribean, South America and Africa. There are numerous radio-sponsored musical stages where renowned R&B Singers & groups such as Joe Thomas, Monica, Angie Stone, Mint Condition and Gospel singer Deitrick Haddon perform. You will also encounter craft vendors as well as different companies advertising their products and services.

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International celebrities from the area such as 90s female rap star Yo-Yo often come to support their community. Wolof Times staff including myself, Sunny Moore and Batani Khalfani were of course in attendance to enjoy the different festivities.

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Joe Thomas headlined the festival and was the last act to perform to the delight of the numerous females fans enthralled by his smooth voice and sex-appeal.

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Angie Thomas graced the audience with her soulful voice and inspiring conscious message backed by an array of sultry background singers.

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Mint Condition displayed their range as vocalists and musicians to the 90s nostalgics.

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Gospel singer Deitrick Haddon came in full-force with his massive choir backing him.

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The iconic Lula Washington Dance Theatre is located on Crenshaw Boulevard and took advantage of the event to showcase its dance talents which performed R&B, Ballet, Cuban and African dance routines for the event goers.

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The event had significant success and is a much needed financial boost to the local economy.

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DANCE & DRUM FESTIVAL, POMONA (CA), OCTOBER 9TH-11TH 2015


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The 4th Annual Dance & Drum Festival, organized by African Dance professor Jewel Jackson “Sista Jewel” also Director of African Soul International, is becoming increasingly popular with yearly attendees from California, Utah, New-York, Ohio etc…The festival took place at Cal Poly Pomona and featured master dance teachers from West Africa (Guinea, Senegal) and the Diaspora (USA, Cuba) including Youssouf Koumbassa, Mareme Faye, Jeffrey Page, Djeneba Sako, Mouminatou Camara, Babacar N’Diaye, Assane Konte and Djian Tie, with specialties in Guinean, Senegalese and Cuban dances.

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The dance classes were all accompanied by professional Djembe, Sabar and Conga players. There were professional as well as amateur dancers taking 1h30-2h long classes, three to four times a day. Some of these dancers also took part in Saturday night’s main event on stage which showcased dancing combined with acting, similarly to African Ballet or Broadway Theater.

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At the end of the main event, Sista Jewel took the time to thank African Dance pioneers within the community and nationwide for their contributions dating as far back as the 60s. Special recognitions were given to Nzingha Camara, Ndella Davis-Diassy, Mareme Faye, Mami Aleke and Assane Konte to name a few.

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The festival was a success and really emphasized a sense of community, education and respect for the elders and ancestors.

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JOSHUA TREE MUSIC FESTIVAL, JOSHUA TREE (CA), OCTOBER 8TH-11TH 2015


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The 2015 Joshua Tree Music Festival located near the Joshua Tree National Park was a colossal triumph, with the desert campground of less dense forests, bare rocks, lake with fauna as a backdrop. This was a weekend for dancing, conscious consumption, broadening, purging and enjoyment. This Music Festival celebrated the diversity and energy of art, crafts, bass, genres, sampled loops, echo-percussions and interactive stretching. Its vibrational frequency injected fire and sentiment into every soul vigorously holding attention until the very last serenade. The Festival presented Yoga, Chakra cleansing with essential oils, tuneful lyrists, soul catching rhythms and art work. Timbuktu State Art by Aly Kourouma (Senegal) displayed creations and illustrated dips of Afrocentric allegory. Timbuktu State’s oeuvre canvas paintings welded texture and bold mix of empowering abstracts. The music line-up was chockfull of musicians, one of the top liners being Daby Toure also from Senegal.

imageSuch a celestial voice, masterful guitar work and catchy melodies. From the first time hearing Daby Touré- the heart lud dubs along, head nodding to guitar and souls entrenched by the melodic hooks. Selections traveled to relationships, family, freedom, peace heaven, continents and cultures. Daby’s lyrics showcased sincerity, such an universal vibe. Easygoing pop fusion style!! He pinned ears back in the crowd. Great festival jam-packed of melodious vibrations skyrocketing the ethers.

Aminah Tolbert is a worldwide reporter and photographer, for Wolof Times.

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CATCH A FIRE TOUR 2015: DAMIAN & STEPHEN MARLEY, MORGAN HERITAGE, TARRUS RILEY, SUPERCAT ETC…, LOS ANGELES (CA), SEPTEMBER 27TH 2015


Damian Marley’s long-awaited tour finally took place in Los Angeles at the Greek Theater, a day after the All-Star line-up gave the city of Oakland a preview. The line-up included Stephen, Skip and Jo Mersa Marley, Black Am I, Reggae’s “other Royal Family” Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Riley and the Legendary Dancehall pioneer SuperCat who replaced Barrington Levy. The venue was packed and fans got a glimpse of different generations of musicians from the older seasoned veteran SuperCat, coming back after a long hiatus, to newcomer Skip Marley who emulates his grandfather Bob well in his voice, singing style and handling of the guitar.

imageBut of course Damian and Stephen were the highlights of the event and showed why they are the ones currently carrying the Marley torch very successfully.

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Jo Mersa Marley is reminiscent of a younger Stephen “Ragga” Marley with his strictly Dancehall style of music.

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Black Am I was in full-representation of Stephen Marley’s Ghetto Youths International Crew which also includes Jo Mersa his son.

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Tarrus Riley is now an Afrocentric force to be reckoned with in the Reggae industry. He is not shy of showcasing his R&B and Dancehall influences through reprises of Michael Jackson and Buju Banton songs, while performing.

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Morgan Heritage aka Reggae’s other Royal Family was also present and this tour shall help them promote their album which came out this year.

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SuperCat definitely showed that he’s a veteran of the game despite a long hiatus. He is nonetheless well-remembered in America thanks to his 90s Hip hop collaborations which are now classic hits.

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BAY AREA VIBEZ: DAMIAN & STEPHEN MARLEY, MORGAN HERITAGE, TARRUS RILEY, I-WAYNE, NAS, ALOE BLACC ETC…, OAKLAND (CA), SEPTEMBER 26-27TH 2015


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The Bay Area Vibez Festival, in its first year, boasted an unbelievable and eclectic line-up which included the acts from Damian Marley’s Catch A Fire Tour 2015 (Damian & Stephen Marley, Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Riley, SuperCat etc…) and Hip hop heavyweight NAS, as well as other R&B/Jazz/Blues artists such as Meshell Ndegecello, Aloe Blacc and FishBone. The venue was in an industrial port area which offered a scenic view of the city of San Francisco and the newly-built Oakland bridge.

The Festival featured one of the Best Hip Hop Freestylists ever: SuperNatural, working as a host and displaying his skills intermittently.

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The highlights of the Festival were of course Damian and Stephen Marley as well as the other acts from their tour due in Los Angeles the next day.

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Upcoming rising stars Skip Marley (Cedella’s son) and Ghetto Youths Crew Black Am I are regularly part of the line-up whenever Damian or Stephen Marley perform.

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Morgan Heritage, the other Reggae Royal Family was also featured.

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Legendary SuperCat reemerged after a long hiatus as one of the most energetic and entertaining artists of the line-up.

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Tarrus Riley has definitely become a Reggae Powerhouse with his sultry voice and dancehall and R&B influences. Not to mention that he is backed by Reggae’s most recognizable saxophonist in Dean Fraser.

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It was a delight watching I-Wayne perform his now classic and newest hits with his trademark high-pitched tone, on the smaller stage.

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Hip Hop Heavyweight NAS was part of the line-up and delivered a mesmerizing performance with his array of classic hits from the 90s to the 2000s much to the delight of Sunday’s Hip hop crowd. However, he surprisingly did not perform with Damian Marley though their collaborative album “Distant Relatives” is a modern Hip hop/Reggae classic.

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Established Blues and R&B/Jazz legends FishBone and  Meshell NDegecello as well as newcomers Blues singer Aloe Blacc and Techno/Club-influenced Reggae band The Courtney John Project contributed more to the eclecticism of this festival which fulfilled the musical fantasies of a very diverse crowd.

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