As part of celebrations marking civil rights leader Martin Luther King's
Birthday today (Monday), which also falls on the eve of President-Elect
Barak Obama's Inauguration, The Kennedy Center in Washington will be the
site of a historic all-star musical event honoring the legacy of King and
looking forward to the Presidency of Obama. It is presented by jazz great
Wynton Marsalis's organization Jazz at Lincoln Center and The Rockefeller
Foundation, and among it's notable performers is Ghanaian drum master
Yacub Addy and his traditional percussion and vocal ensemble Odadaa!.
 
Addy and Marsalis co-wrote the groundbreaking 2-hour compositon "Congo
Square" which combines traditional Ghanaian music with jazz on a level
never done before, and proved that without African music, American jazz
would not exist. In Monday's celebration, dubbed "Let Freedom Swing",
Addy and Odadaa! will perform with jazz titan Marsalis and his Jazz at
Lincoln Center Orchestra, performing a piece from "Congo Square" that
expresses the thoughts and feelings of fishermen living on the coast of
Ghana as they watched prisoners being taken away during the slave trade. 
Addy tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Obama's election will
play a significant role in Monday's music-making.
 
"The program is called "Let Freedom Swing: A Celebration of America", of
Obama's inauguration and Dr. Martin Luther King's Birthday.  Tonight we
are doing a celebration of the two together. And tonight will be a
wonderful night for all of us and those who will be coming to the Kennedy
Center. I promise you that anybody who comes to see us tonight is going
to enjoy him or herself," Addy noted.
 
Addy said the idea of mixing African traditional music with jazz was
conceptualized in the early 1950s after he saw American jazz legend Louis
Armstrong in Ghana.
 
"I have had this idea for a very long time since 1953 when Louis Armstrong
visited Ghana, which at the time was known as the Gold Coast. I had that
idea since then because there was no rock and roll, only jazz around the
world at that time. And I found out from Louis Armstrong that New Orleans
is the city where jazz came from," he said.
 
Addy gave the idea to Marsalis to create a piece of music honoring Congo
Square, a historic site in New Orleans where African slaves were allowed
to play their own music and dance every Sunday for over a hundred years
from the 17 ? 1800s. It is the place where African music entered American
music and American culture. Marsalis has said that every form of music
created in America owes a debt to the African musicians who played in
Congo Square.
 
Addy said the performance with jazz great Wynton Marsalis Monday at the
Kennedy Center will be a night to behold.
 
"Anybody who sees our concert tonight will really know that jazz and
African music are together and inseparable. Everybody will understand that
yes, this is the real thing." Addy pointed out.
 
Also performing in "Let Freedom Swing" are jazz notables Cassandra Wilson,
Diane Reeves, Dave Brubeck, Paquito D'Rivera, Bela Fleck and Roy Haynes.
 
Addy said he is hopeful that as the first African American to be elected
president of the United States of America, Barak Obama will enable peace
and prosperity to be achieved worldwide.
 
"Everybody in Africa has to understand that President Obama is the first
African American President in America. We all have to support him to
achieve what he has set out to achieve. Nobody is perfect, but when you
listen to him you will understand that this man (Obama) is going to do
something great not just in America, but also the whole world. With Obama
we can be able to do something like bring peace and freedom to the world,"
he said.