Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit December 06, 2013 - 6:45 am

Ghana-Canada musical fusion comes to Iqaluit Dec. 8

CanadAfrica closes Alianait’s 2013 concert series

PETER VARGA
CanadAfrica, a collaboration between harmonica virtuoso Mike Stevens and dancer-percussionist Okaidja Afroso, will perform in Iqaluit Dec. 7. (HANDOUT PHOTO)
CanadAfrica, a collaboration between harmonica virtuoso Mike Stevens and dancer-percussionist Okaidja Afroso, will perform in Iqaluit Dec. 7. (HANDOUT PHOTO)

The sounds and rhythms of Ghana, teamed up with harmonica-driven folk and blues, will reverberate in Iqaluit Dec. 8.

Mike Stevens and dancer-percussionist Okaidja Afroso will share their fresh tunes sprung from the collaboration, CanadAfrica, which includes pieces from their newly-released album “Where is the One?”

Stevens, a Canadian harmonica virtuoso, and Ghanian-born Afroso first connected in the Arctic a few years ago. That was in Fairbanks, Alaska, for a summer music festival.

This time, the performers take their collaboration across the continent to the eastern Arctic, almost in time for winter.

Stevens convinced Afroso to join him for an invitation to put on Alianait’s final concert of the year.

“I was organizing my concert series, and I approached Mike [Stevens],” says Heather Daley, executive director of Alianait.

When hopes to put on a performance with a fellow blues musician didn’t materialize, Stevens called on his Arctic friend from Ghana, and the concert was timed to coincide with the recent release of their first CD.

The two performers arrived in Iqaluit Dec. 5. Their visit to Iqaluit, which covers almost a full four days, is Afroso’s first trip to the eastern Arctic.

The CanadAfrica duo warmed up on their day of arrival with a small workshop performance at Inuksuk High School, joined by the Inuksuk Drum Dancers.

Their Dec. 8 performance, which also takes place at the high school, promises to be more than a music show.

“Okaidja [Afroso] is a percussionist, but he’s also an amazing dancer,” Daley says.

When he’s not dancing, the performer will play traditional Ghanian instruments, she says, including a local version of the marimba, a percussion instrument.

Stevens, who has already performed in Iqaluit, and has been to several communities throughout northern Canada as part of his work with CanArts Circle.

The charitable organization gives music and other arts workshops to youth in remote northern communities “to promote self-esteem and creative expression,” according to its website.

The organization grew out of an experience Stevens had with Aboriginal youth while in Goose Bay, Labrador, in 2000.

Some of Nunavut’s own young talent will open CanadAfrica.

The show will start with performances by the Inuksuk Drum Dancers, followed by sets from rapper Brian Tagalik, winner of the Alianait’s 2013 battle of the bands, and pop singer Kelly Fraser.

Alianait’s final concert of 2013, featuring CanadAfrica takes place Dec. 8 at Inuksuk High School. Advance tickets are $22 for adults and $12 for teenagers at Arctic Ventures.

Tickets at the door are $25 for adults and $15 for teenagers. The show is free for elders and kids 12 and under with an adult.

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