Posted by Kristin Travagline
On Sept. 22 in Washington, Skidmore faculty member Yacub Addy received a National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The NEA annually awards National Heritage Fellowship Awards for master folk and traditional artists. These fellowships recognize artistic excellence and support the artists' continuing contributions to an American traditional arts heritage.
Addy has been a faculty member of the college music department since 1995, sharing his talent for creating new musical works that are rooted in tradition.
Addy is the eldest living drummer in the Addy family of performers from Ghana. He is a son of Okonfo Akoto, a medicine man, and Akua Hagan, a lead singer in her husband's medicine music. Addy credits his elder brother, Tetteh Koblah Addy, as his most influential drumming teacher.
In 1956, the year of Ghana's independence, Addy organized and led the first major staged performance of genuinely traditional Ghanaian music and dance at the Accra Community Center.
Addy later formed the historic groups Ashiedu Ketrekre, which set a performance standard in Ghana in the 1960s, and Oboade, which became the first professional traditional Ghanaian group to tour in the West. Addy's music took him from Ghana to Europe and America where, in 1982, he created the acclaimed performance ensemble Odadaa!, composed predominantly of Ga artists, which he leads to this day.
Addy's work has preserved and contributed to the music and dance heritage of Ghana, and has maintained in the U.S. a rare standard of traditionalism. "I don't agree with the western idea of stardom; it brings nothing but division. With God's help, I'm determined to stay true to my culture and speak the truth," Addy said.