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Okai is a percussionist and vocalist in several bands that are based in Brooklyn, all representing the music of the African Diaspora. As a lead vocalist and percussionist of Brown Rice Family, StringsNSkins and Underground Horns Okai is often on the road travelling to perform gigs all over the country and internationally.
As a Lakou Nou Artist in Residency in Canarsie, Okai created a workshop that incorporated his passion for drumming and his conscious eating lifestyle. This session took place on Saturday, November 5th at the Brooklyn Theater Arts, South Shore High School.
In 2012 Okai started to adopt a more conscious diet. He explained that making changes such as eating less meat, consuming less dairy, becoming more conscious of his sugar intake made a huge difference. He also began studying product labels more often and stayed away from ingredients he was unsure of or that were obviously detrimental when consumed. Reading labels and doing research on ingredients also helped him to be a more conscious consumer because he started paying more attention to the companies he was supporting, he began to invest more in companies with a shared mission.
Okai has noticed a transformation in his wellbeing since making these changes “ I started noticing that I had more energy, more awareness, I dreamt better and I had better thoughts” he stated. Inspired by the positive results he achieved by making this change, he now aims to share this message with other musicians. Accordingly as an artist in residence, in our Lakou Nou Artist Residency program in Canarsie, he incorporated a health segment in his workshop. He invited Anthony a drummer and health specialist practicing in Queens, NY. During his segment, Anthony reiterated a lot of what Okai himself had learned on his health conscious journey including cutting out a lot of pasta, processed foods and items that used a lot of white flour.
Another unique aspect of this workshop is that it brought together both beginners and professional drummers. Okai’s Rhythm Exchange workshop featured three master drummers of Colombian, Puerto Rican, and Haitian background, which allowed for drummers of all levels to learn a new rhythm. Attendees learned Afro-Columbian drumming from Cumbia rhythms originated from the days of slavery in the late 17th century. We learned of the bass drum (tambora) a double -sided drum used to produce the deep bass rhythms; the Tambor Alegre a secondary mid-drum known used for backup rhythm and the small drum (lamador), which also provides the back beat. Afterwards Will Tucker presented Puerto Rican Bumba rhythm featuring the drumming style Leró used as accompaniment for dancers. Finally Jean May Brignol gave us a snippet of Ibo, Nago and Yanvalou rhythms from Afro Haitian drumming.
Okai’s workshop gave participants an opportunity to hear and experience how similar and connected Afro-Caribbean culture is, while also hearing the different tones that make the expression from each country unique and distinctive.
See photos of the event HERE!
This entry was posted on Monday, November 21st, 2016 at 4:57 pm and is filed under Archive, Arts, HCX Programs, Lakou NOU, Music, Weekend. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.