The U.S. National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will present Yacub Addy, a Ghanaian music professor and drum master, with a 2010 National Heritage Fellowship award at the Library of Congress Wednesday.
Addy currently teaches music at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.
The award is America's highest honor for folk and traditional arts. It recognizes Addy’s lifetime of artistic excellence and efforts to conserve Ga (ethnic Ghanaian group’s) and Ghanaian culture for future generations.
Addy is a master of traditional music of the Ga ethnic group, a creator of new works rooted in tradition, and a committed educator. His music took him from Ghana to Europe and America where, in 1982, he created the acclaimed performance ensemble Odadaa.
Amina Addy, manager and producer of Yacub Addy and the Odadaa ensemble, said Yacub Addy shed tears of joy when he received the news of the award.
“It is significant that the National Endowment for the Arts is recognizing Yacub Addy an African living in the United States for keeping his specific African culture, his Ga and Ghanaian culture alive in America on a very high standard,” she said.
Amina Addy also said it was important for Africans everywhere to realize that the American government is giving this award to him (Yacub Addy).
Yacub Addy has also collaborated with artists, most notably jazz and classical trumpet player Wynton Marsalis on the Africa Jazz concerts at Columbia College in 2003, and the ground-breaking composition Congo Square, which premiered in New Orleans in 2006.
Addy’s pioneering work has preserved and added to the music and dance heritage of Ghana, and retained in the United States a standard of “traditionality” rare in Ghana.
Addy has been a member of the faculty of the Music Department of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs since 1995. Odadaa is currently in residence at The Empire State Plaza Performing Arts Center (The Egg) in Albany, New York.
Manager and producer Addy said she is “concerned that Ghanaians at home and in other African countries will keep their tradition alive there and learn from their elders there, and take it as being very significant that an African in the United States is being awarded by the U.S government for having kept his traditional culture, not contemporary culture, his traditional culture, alive in the United States.”