Songs of Lake Volta Kinetic feat. Members of the Kassia Ensemble
- 1Akoo Kofi04:08
- 2Damba Suite06:42
- 9Dama Dama04:42
Info for Songs of Lake Volta
SONGS OF LAKE VOLTA, Joe Sheehan’s debut on Ansonica Records, finds the composer and pianist fusing his passion for the music of West Africa, particularly that of Ghana, with his background in both classical chamber music and contemporary jazz. SONGS OF LAKE VOLTA features nine traditional Ghanian songs surrounded by original music composed by Sheehan, performed by two critically acclaimed groups: Kinetic and Kassia Ensemble.
Sheehan returned to Ghana several times after a life-changing trip in 2008, between 2013 and 2017, to further explore the country and its music. The intensity of these studies, which included many unforgettable late nights drumming and dancing, continued to inspire him, resulting in Kinetic’s 2014 recording, World of Wonder, and now in SONGS OF LAKE VOLTA.
To promote the values of open, critical cross-cultural dialogue, this genre-bending album challenges the persistent notion of drumming being the sole outstanding feature of traditional African music. Kinetic, which Sheehan founded, is comprised of five versatile musicians who believe in breaking down barriers between traditional music genres and audiences. The newly-formed Kassia Ensemble is equally focused on breaking down barriers – the all-woman group came together to supersede the gender barrier that is prevalent in classical music.
SONGS OF LAKE VOLTA features vocalist Anqwenique Wingfield singing in various indigenous languages and styles representative of Ghana’s ethnic diversity. The amalgamation of the Kassia Ensemble’s and Kinetic’s musicians represents an equally diverse spirit, incorporating whose work outside these groups extends to contemporary classical, R&B and hip-hop.
SONGS OF LAKE VOLTA expresses Sheehan’s joy and admiration for Ghanian music in an honest and respectful way, sharing a wisdom that unites the three music traditions from which it draws influence: West African, classical and jazz.
Songs of Lake Volta is a beautifully-crafted album that illustrates a different side of African music through the prism of contemporary jazz and chamber music.
Samuel Okoh-Boateng, piano
music was first imagined in Ghana, where Joe Sheehan spent six months intensively studying Ghanaian music, dance, and culture. The music is brought to life by the band’s versatile musicians, comprising Anqwenique Wingfield on vocals, Anthony Ambroso on guitar, Joe Sheehan on keyboards, Jason Rafalak on bass, PJ Roduta on percussion, and Ryan Socrates on drums.
is a newly formed Pittsburgh chamber group comprised exclusively of women in an effort to supersede the gender barrier that is prevalent in classical music. Its members also hold positions in the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet orchestras, the West Virginia Symphony, the Wheeling Symphony, and the Canton Symphony Orchestras.
is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, teacher, and researcher from Ghana. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Jazz Studies program at the University of Pittsburgh where he also serves as a Teaching Fellow. In 2016, he received a master's of arts degree in Ethnomusicology from Kent State University with a focus on the dynamics of gender representation in Ghanaian popular music.
composes and performs music to connect with musicians and audiences from diverse traditions. His music has been performed at prestigious concert halls, underground jazz clubs, outdoor music festivals, and intimate chamber settings. Musicians involved with his work include professional performers of jazz, classical, hip-hop, and African traditional music.
His work is rooted in three music traditions: jazz, classical, and West African traditional music, drawing from years of study and engagement with all three traditions. This includes several extended trips in Ghana studying its traditional music and dance, academic degrees in classical composition, and countless gigs as a professional jazz pianist. For Sheehan, all three music traditions share the value of wisdom. A wisdom that, though expressed differently in each, balances knowledge of tradition with the novelty of self-expression and stylistic evolution. It is to this quality of wisdom that Sheehan’s music and performances aspire to.
Sheehan’s classical compositions have been performed by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, percussionist Lisa Pegher, violinists Jeremy Cohen (QSF) and Paul Brancato (San Francisco Symphony), and cellist Eugene Friesen (Paul Winter Consort), at several CMS and ITG music conferences, and at the 2016 and 2017 Clazz International Music Festivals.
Sheehan founded the afro-jazz group Kinetic, which is releasing its second album Songs of Lake Volta on Ansonica Records in August 2018. The album features nine Ghanaian traditional songs blended with original jazz and classical music, and also involves members of the Kassia Ensemble, an all-female classical chamber ensemble. Kinetic’s first album, World of Wonder, was released in 2014. This led to the ensemble touring in New York City and Philadelphia, as well as featured airplay on WESA and WYEP Pittsburgh.
As a pianist, Sheehan performs jazz, hip-hop, and R&B in Pittsburgh and beyond, at events such as the BNY Mellon JazzLive Series, Three Rivers Arts Festival, the African Arts Festival in the Park, and Home for the Holidays, a holiday song revue featuring renowned Pittsburgh vocalists. He is a frequent collaborator with genre-defying projects such as the Groove Aesthetic, which blends hip-hop with classical music, and Cool Like Dat, a series of live hip-hop and R&B shows.
Dr. Sheehan teaches Musicianship at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, teaching classes in music theory, composition, songwriting, and African music. He has taught three Duquesne University Maymester study abroad programs: twice in Ghana, and once in Rome. Sheehan is also a faculty member at the Clazz International Music Festival Jazz Session in Arcidosso, Italy.