Published Apr 23, 2014 at 2:17 pm (Updated Apr 23, 2014)
MIDDLETOWN — SUNY Orange’s Cultural Affairs and Global Initiative have teamed up to give a grand finish to their respective events series. On Thursday, May 1 at 11 a.m., an outdoor world music concert is being presented on the Alumni Green at the Middletown campus. Toby Foyeh and Orchestra Africa will give a lively, high-energy concert performing on traditional African instruments — the Gangan talking drum and the Kalimba thumb piano and the flute, as well as modern keyboards and guitars, accompanied by a chorus of female voices.
Global Initiative is a college-wide interdisciplinary focus on a topic of global importance. The topic for the 2013-2014 academic year is Africa, and has been underwritten by Walden Savings Bank.
Foyeh’s compositions are based on the music of Nigeria’s Yoruba tribe but also encompass sounds from around the world. His unique fusion of traditional African music such as Highlife, Afrobeat, and folklore, with the Western elements of jazz, rock, pop, and Latin rhythms, creates a musical melting pot. Fresh and original, this is “Afrijam” – and audiences often find themselves dancing as happened the last time Foyeh and his ensemble played at SUNY Orange in 2001. This will be easy to do in the outdoor setting of Alumni Green. While the female singers chant in call-and-response singing, they perform improvised African dances in costumes that add colorful spice. In the spirit of the oral traditions of the Yoruba, the music tells many stories of Africa’s animals, landscape, and spirits as well as the joys and pains of her people, plus the present-day Africa as it finds itself in a global world of technology and mass media communications.
Foyeh taught himself to play guitar and other instruments from an early age in his native Nigeria, playing in school bands in Ibadan and Lagos. A group he formed with some high school friends went on to tour America as Hugh Masekela’s Ojah band. He later further developed his talents and skills at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, and at Washington, DC’s Howard University.
With Orchestra Africa, Foyeh has toured the world to become one of Africa’s biggest stars. As an established artist in Nigeria, his previous album there had two hit singles “Ore mi” and “I’m on Fire,” and while living in London he made a significant impact on the UK world pop scene with appearances at prestigious events. Since recently migrating to the US he has begun to do the same here, with ongoing appearances at colleges, festivals, and clubs.