Unexpected passing of Master Drummer, Master Musician, Master Teacher: Jamaiel Shabaka, leaving behind 13 children and a legacy of healing through his music.
Aug 20, 1954-Aug 22 2021
Long lived #sicklecellanemia 67 years of life.
Compton raised Jamaiel Shabaka has traveled the world and brought forth to America his Ashanti and Yoruba roots and culture form the Caribbean to West Africa. With him, Shabaka carries traditional rhythms of healing and positive powerful music.
Mr. Shabaka has studied music from an early age. He is a master of the alto, soprano and tenor saxophones, the flute as well as multiple West African and Caribbean drums with a special mastership in the Djembe. His discipline and artistic mastership has given him a long standing career in which he has played with musical legends Sun Ra Orchestra in Nigeria, Horace Tapscott, Pharaoh Saunders and Alice Coltrane in California. He also wrote and produced his own reggae album entitled, “Land of the Rising Sun.” In addition to this, he has a compilation album of Djembe traditional West African Rhythms.
At Long Beach State University, he began his study of African music in 1979. He then went on to his Mother’s second nation Jamaica to study and observe the Drumming Priesthood Order and the drumming styles of Jamaica. Today, Shabaka is a master of the Kumina rites drumming as well as the Afro Cuban Bata drumming. In 1985, he was fortunate to have been initiated into the Sun Drummers Society based in Chicago led by Moshe Millon. In 1999, he was given the title of Djembe Fola (One who makes the Djembe speak). This title is very difficult to achieve and once achieved, you are truly a Djembe Master. Akan priest, Nana Abas, also honored him in the Ghanaian drumming culture, where Shabaka was given a stool in the country of Ghana among the Ashanti people. Soon after this, he traveled internationally to continue mastering the djembe and its healing traditions, studying and playing with masters such as Famadou Konate, Abilaye Diakete and Kemoko Sano. Jamaiel Shabaka is a Master Drummer in the traditions of Mali, Yoruba, and Akan traditional cultures and Caribbean drum and culture. Drums he has mastered include but are not limited to: Djembe, Djun Djun, Sangba, Kenkeni, Kete, Fundi, Burro and Kumina drum. Shabaka has also mastered the flute and has toured with traditional Mali Folkloric Ensembles. His gifted hands and ears have inspired him to participate in many community festivals including the Watts Jazz and Drum Festival, the African Marketplace, the Kwanzaa Celebration in Leimert Park, the William Grant Still Arts Center, Debbie Allen Dance Studios, Lula Washington Dance Studio, and much more creative works and havens.,
Shabaka has taken his drum to Hollywood and he has been featured in the following television productions: “A Different World,” “Motown 30,” “The Martin Show,” “The Steve Harvey Show,” and the following movie productions: “Poetic Justice,” “Predator 2,” “Encino Man” and “The Color Purple.”
Shabaka also performed for the first South African President Nelson Mandela and has also appeared at the Toyota and Kodak Theaters. Shabaka’s worldliness extends to the Far East as well. He has taken to China with his Djembe drum to shoot another movie production about the connections between African and Chinese dance and drumming.
As a drum instructor, Mr. Shabaka has forged a strong commitment to sharing the cultural traditions of West African drumming and dance with students of all ages and backgrounds. His expertise led him to teach drumming and culture at the prestigious University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
In the later state of his career, Shabaka has now developed his own 501.c(3) non-profit organization, the Anani Cultural Healing Arts Center. With this organization, he is living out his dream of healing the world through higher vibrations and he has received multiple grants from the City of Los Angeles and has taught in over 100 schools of LAUSD, reaching out to the youth around the city and bringing them the traditions of the ancestors. He has also taught at Santa Monica City College and UCI. Hs current projects include composing new music in which he fuses his multiple fields of expertise with a focus on healing and unity, star study and the natural elements of the earth. Shabaka has also developed many curriculums and programs that connect the music of the African Diaspora, tracing its roots and following its journey through such major world migrations as the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Shabaka has done much study and made university level presentations on the cultural connections of the music of the African Diaspora. As the drum was banned during slavery in America, Shabaka values the importance of teaching and incorporating the drum back into our culture and promotes this cultural education at the university level. He was also working towards building a center in Ghana West Africa.
This brotha has always been true supporter, and wishing well towards our success. He has come out to the booth more times than I can count, because he also loves the food. Good people doing the work.
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Thank you to Gwenna Hunter who asked us to come out and take part in serving the community.
Spreading wellness to the community.