Herschel Freeman Agency

Masters from Guinea, Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda/Burundi and Madagascar


African Guitar Summit

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Indulge in the sounds of the finest Canadian guitarists of African origin – 2005 Juno Award winners for World Music Album of the Year – African Guitar Summit. This star-studded collective unites the talents of 6 musicians, each an expert in their individual style and together creating musical magic with African Guitar Summit. Experience live this superb and unique achievement for African music; the mix of musicians who are distinct in cultural backgrounds and languages yet sharing stories and singing each other’s praises, the inspiration of these skilled hands and voices joined in common to reach the summit…A truly incredible experience! African Guitar Summit features: From Guinea, the smooth fire of Juno Award winner Alpha YaYa Diallo; and the heartbeat of drummer Kofi Ackah; from Kenya, the Fiesta guitar of Professor Adam Solomon; from Burundi/Rwanda, the bluesy Mighty Popo; and from Madagascar the quicksilver guitars and harmonies of Donne Roberts and multiple Juno Award winner Madagascar Slim. Their debut CD “African Guitar Summit” was honoured with a Juno as World Music Album of the Year at the 2005 Juno Awards in April. Their second album, "African Guitar Summit II", garnered a 2007 Juno award nomination in the same category.


Donné RobertsDonné Roberts

Guitarist (groove master) and singer from Madagascar lives in Toronto. Donné Roberts is a passionate performer. When he hits the stage he carries with him an energy that immediately exhilarates the crowd - even if they've never heard his music before. Donné performs mainly in Malagasy. Donné Roberts came to wider recognition after he released two great albums “Rhythm Was Born” and “Internation” and for his contribution to the African Guitar Summit project. Donné raised and educated in Moscow Russia and now lives in Toronto. He was the first black VJ on MTV Russia. He sang back up vocals for the Swedish pop group the “Ace Of Bace”. Very actively touring Canada as a solo, duo, trio and full Donné Roberts Band sharing HAPPY MUSIC FROM MADAGASCAR!!!!


Madagascar Slim

Madagascar SlimMy name is Randriamananjara Radofa Besata Jean Longin.  I was born on Halloween night  of 1956 in Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar.  I am the youngest son in the family and have 3 brothers and two sisters.  Two of my brothers and one sister play guitar and my parents were both musicians although they did not play professionally.
When I was about nine, one of my brothers  received a guitar for passing an exam.  The instrument really gave him power over me and the only time he allowed me to play it, was after I ran some errands for him or gave him my dessert.  I guess that's one of the reasons the guitar became very desirable to me.
My brothers played in a local band and they were into one of the most popular styles of dance music of Madagascar called "Salegy".  Again I was not allowed to be in their rehearsal room but whenever my brother practised on his own I would closely observe his technique and I would try to emulate his playing on his guitar when he was not home.  It was not long before I became a fairly decent "Salegy" player.
One day I heard this incredible music on the radio.   It was "Hey Joe" played by Jimi Hendrix and it really changed my life and the kind of music I wanted to play then.  I literally spent days and nights trying to figure out the chords and especially that fantastic solo part.  I couldn't speak a word of English and I did not understand what he was talking about, but the feel of the music somehow really touched something in me.
Later when I heard some records by B.B. King, I recognized the same crying solo pattern but in a more direct and simplified form. Those two giants and the local Malagasy music were the biggest influences to my playing.
My parents sent me to Canada in 1979 to further my studies and get a good education, but in my mind the real reason I came over was to learn English so I could sing the kind of songs I had fallen in love with when I was younger.  I took English as a second language and then finished college.
I graduated with honors in the "Accounting and Finance Coop Program" at Seneca College.


Mighty Popo

Mighty PopoYou could say that Jacques (Popo) Murigande known by his stage name as the Mighty Popo is a Rwandan whose music is steeped in African tradition, but you’d hardly be getting at the whole story of one of Canada’s greatest rising stars. You’d hardly be able to account for his effortless musicality as a member of the 2004 Juno Award winning African Guitar Summit, the kudos received for his genre-busting solo work with his last album “Gakondo” released on Borealis Records been nominated for the Juno awards in 2011, or his highlight performance at the Canadian edition of Bob Geldof’s international Live 8 concerts (one of the few chosen for EMI’s Live 8 DVD)

En route to understanding Popo’s musical and career achievements, one would do well to consider how Africa and Africans are often subjected to certain distortions in the public consciousness.

Recent history has made Rwanda and Burundi a kind of shorthand for violence, chaos and genocide. One might think that all music, dance, laughter, civility and joie de vivre in those countries had disappeared into a vortex of despair. Popo – a Rwandan born in a Burundian refugee community – is evidence to the contrary. He is a person of enormous charm, wit, resilience and, yes, joie de vivre.The image of a hardscrabble existence eked out in isolation, despair and dislocation doesn’t take into account the richness of lives lived before and even during exile, the communities formed within it and the strength of families that sustain themselves through it. In spite of hardship, Popo and his family made connections and friendships, found jobs, expressed ideas, pursued dreams, surrounded themselves with music and managed to live and be engaged in a larger world.

There is a strain of romanticism that glorifies “traditional”African music, defining it in restrictive terms, arguing for its “purity” in a curatorial manner and citing a musician’s connection to tradition as a means of authentication and validation. In reality, African tradition – like any tradition – is a floating signifier, a tough concept to nail down, part of a continuum that constantly shape-shifts in subtle ways that stretch over many lifetimes and across many borders. But as much as Popo has inherited a love of the traditional music of Rwanda and Burundi, he also has a lifelong connection with rock and roll, blues, jazz, R&B, Reggae and folk traditions. His music reflects his immersion in a world culture which he has navigated with grace, sensitivity and an enormous sense of exploration and fun. It is enriched by many traditions. It is authentically his. It is validated by its own excellence.


Adam SolomonAdam Solomon

Professor Adam Solomon, who is featured on the Juno-award winning CD African Guitar Summit (CBC), combines the best guitar tradition of the early 1960s with modern East African big band sound from Congo, Tanzania and Kenya, and beautiful lyrics from Mombasa, to create a most original style best described as Afro-Soul Rhumba.Adam won double TAMA Awards, Toronto Music Africa Awards.

Indeed, instead of running for the easy Soukous music that defined most of the 1990s, Solomon dips deep into the roots of rhumba that have nourished dance music in East and Central Africa since the early 1950s. He deftly resurrects the flickering fiesta guitar style pioneered by Henri Bowane and elaborated by Nico Kasanda on the tracks Rehema, Shemegi and Maneno Mengi. But for the purists who deify Kasanda as a guitar music legend, the sweet fiesta instrumental track appropriately titled Kasanda Remembered is to be savoured again and again.

However, what defines the originality of this album is Solomon’s gift as a singer-songwriter. Where he once allowed his guitar to do the singing, his voice has come ashore, weaving the threads that stitch tradition and modernity. On the tracks Mapendo, Rikata and Huyu Niliye Naye, he finds soulful melodies on the shores of the Indian Ocean among the Swahili fishermen and the traditional farmers eking a living out of the soil. Retaining the simplicity and spontaneity that characterize communal songs among the Swahili, his voice breaks free from the shackles of being one of the best guitar talents from Continental Africa.

In Mti Wa Maisha (Tree of Life), Solomon employs his beautiful guitar style to infuse life in the roots music, touching a new vibrancy, intimacy and range never embraced in his earlier recordings. The age of Afro-Soul Rhumba is here—dance away to your hearts’ content.

This multitalented musician is a 2005 Juno Award Winner and a double winner at TAMA (Toronto African Music Awards) for Best Release and Best New Performers in 1997. Adam was born in Mombasa, Kenya, and began performing at an early age, playing kivoti (flute) and kayaamba (shaker) at village celebrations and festivals. He established his career playing lead guitar and singing on recordings and videos with Kenya's most popular bands and musicians, including Joseph Kamaru, Daudi Kabaka, Zetta success band, Kabasselleh Ochieng, Bana Citoyen, Super Kalles, Bana Batoto, Super Mazembe, Less Wanyika, Popo Lipo of Lessa Lessan, Professor Mb.Naaman with the Nine stars band,Kanda Bongo Man, Fadhili Williams, Juma Toto, and the Mombasa Roots band. Adam's touring credits include workshops and performances with Congolese superstar Papa Wemba and Ismael Lo from Senegal.

Adam was a co-founder of Canada's great pan-African band, the Afronubians, with whom he toured western Canada in 1993. He collaborated with them for two CD releases, "Tour To Africa" (1994) and "The Great Africans" (1995). Adam collaborated on Show Do Man's release "Trouble Trouble" (1994), also on Tae Kwarro's CD in the year 2000 by Achilla Orru. He has released three of his own CDs, including "Safari" in 1996 and "Rocket Express II: African Renaissance Blues" in 2003. Adam formed his own band, Tikisa, in 1995, with whom he continues to tour. Their CD, "Mti wa Maisha/Tree of Life" was released in the spring of 2006. In 2007, Adam released "Roots Rhythms (Magoma Asili)", an homage to the traditional rhythms of the Mijikenda (Nine Tribes) people of costal Kenya.


Alpha Yaya DialloAlpha Yaya Diallo

Guitarist and singer Alpha Yaya Diallo, from Guinea in West Africa, is one of the hottest acts on the current world music scene. Now based in Vancouver, Canada, he's earned a matchless reputation internationally for the excellence of his musicianship and the excitement of his live shows - whether performing solo or with his band The Bafing Riders. Diallo is a uniquely multi-talented artist. His dexterous acoustic and electric guitar-playing, with its fluid melodic lines and compelling grooves, places him in the front ranks of African axemen. In addition he is a skilled and experienced performer on a variety of percussion instruments, and on the balafon (traditional wooden xylphone). To complete the abundance of riches Diallo writes his own compositions, and sings with a supple and beautifully modulated voice.

By successfully uniting the traditional and the contemporary, Diallo has carved a niche for himself beside such West African luminaries as Salif Keita, Baaba Maal, Youssou N'Dour, and Ismael Lo. But, if anything, the blend of musical elements to be found in Diallo's work is even richer and more diverse, a heritage from his childhood years. His father worked as a doctor-surgeon, frequently on the move with his family. Growing up in a number of regions of Guinea, Diallo was accordingly exposed to a variety of cultures, and absorbed musical traditions from the Malenke, Sousou, and his own Foulani people. In addition he spent time in neighbouring Senegal, where his mother has relatives, and picked up the popular and powerful mbalax rhythm there - as well as influences from Cape Verde and the Caribbean. A self-taught musician, Diallo possesses a fine ear and quickly learned how to transpose for his guitar the melodic and rhythmic patterns he heard played on indigenous Guinean instruments. He was already in great demand as a musician while at school and university, performing with such bands as The Sons of Ra'is, and Syli Authentique. Eventually Diallo found the opportunity to move to Europe, and became a member of Fatala - a group of West African musicians recording for Peter Gabriel's Real World label.

Fatala travelled widely, appearing at many festivals throughout Western Europe, including the prestigious WOMAD Festival outside London, and the Festival d'Angoulème in France. After the band's North American tour in 1991 Diallo decided to stay, and settled on the West Coast. Since then he has recorded five highly-acclaimed albums of his own compositions.. Both the acoustic Néné, on which Diallo played all the instruments, and the electric Futur were nominated for Juno Awards - the highest accolade of the Canadian music industry. In addition Futur obtained the Music Africa Award for National Recording of the Year, and the Pacific Music Industry Award for Best World Music Album. Internationally distributed by BMG, Diallo's The Message won the coveted Juno in 1999 for Best Global Recording. In 2002, The Journey also won the Juno Award for Best Global Recording, as well as The Best World Independent.

In recent years Diallo has criss-crossed Canada and the United States, garnering rave reviews wherever he goes for his masterful performances. He's been invited to an ever-increasing number of world music, jazz, folk, and other festivals – sharing the stage with the likes of David Lindley, Thomas Mapfumo and reggae stars Jimmy Cliff, Third World and Burning Spear. A documentary film about Diallo and his music was shot during a trip to Guinea, and back in Canada. Entitled The Best of Both Worlds, it was first broadcast early in 2001 on the Bravo channel, and on both the English and French CBC television. Diallo is increasingly recognized as one of Canada's leading music performers in any genre. In the summer of 2003 he played a series of high-profile European festivals as part of the Canada Council-sponsored Sonic Wave tour. And in February 2004 he was a member of the hugely successful African Guitar Summit concert at Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto - with Pa Joe, Mighty Popo, Madagascar Slim, Adam Solomon, and Donné Robert. The African Guitar Summit CD has just been nominated for a Juno. On his latest album Djama, which means 'The People' in Fulah, Diallo has taken his art to new heights, with the intricacy and precision of his guitar-playing and his soulful singing. The recording features several superb duets with fellow guitarist Karamoko Kouyaté from Mali's legendary Rail Band.

Kofi AckahKofi Ackah

Master percussionist Kofi Ackah, son of Jewel Ackah, was born into a musical family in the town of Ema, Ghana. His father is known as the King of Highlife in Ghana, one of the best Highlife musicians in the world. His father was his mentor. The first band he played with was his father’s, known as The Butterfly Six band. After that Kofi moved to Canada in 1992 and joined The Highlife Stars with Pat Thomas and Theo Yao Boakye. He also joined the Afronubians band of Tarig Abubakar in 1993. He contributed in recordings, and toured across Canada 1993 and 1994.

In 1995 He joined the Tikisa Band of Adam Solomon, and toured across Canada and parts of the U.S. He also contributed in their recordings, which resulted as the double TAMA Awards Winners. (Toronto Africa Music Awards, best release Safari CD 1997, best band Tikisa). Kofi also was involved in school programs, teaching traditional Ghanian hand drumming, and singing. Kofi Ackah plays with his band Afrafranto playing Highlife music, in clubs, and festivals.

Kofi is the chief percussionist and drummer for the African Guitar Summit, and has contributed in their recordings (which won a Juno (Canadian Grammy) for Best World Music Recording) , and on their tours across Canada, and parts of the U.S.


Press Photos

Mighty Popo
Donné Roberts Alpha Yaya Diallo Kofi Ackah Adam Solomon
Madagascar Slim African Guitar Summit Adam Solomon


Tour Schedule


November 15  Ramsey Auditorium, Fermilab, Batavia IL
November 20  Don H. Bottum University Center, Northern MI University, Marquette MI
November 22  Dennos Museum, Traverse City MI


March 6   Alaska Center For The Performing Arts, Anchorage AK
March 7   Alaska Center For The Performing Arts, Anchorage AK
March 8   Denali Arts Council, Talkeetna AK
March 10  Valdez Civic Center, Valdez AK
March 12  Community Activity Center, Ft. Greely AK
March 13  Hering Auditorium, Fairbanks AK
March 14  Tri-Valley School, Healy AK

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