posted April 2, 2007

Gambian Musician to Perform on April 12

Hope College will feature Gambian musician Alhaji Papa Susso on Thursday, April 12, at 7:30 p.m. at The Park Theatre.

Papa Susso, master kora (African harp-lute) player and oral historian from The Gambia, West Africa, hails from a long line of griots (traditional oral historians) of the Mandinka people. He was taught the kora by his father and has been playing since the age of five.

The kora, a 21-stringed harp-lute, evolved from earlier hunter harps used by the Mandinka people of West Africa. It said to have been invented by the Susso family. It is the preferred instrument of Mandinka Jalolu (griot), itinerant musicians, who were traditionally attached to royal courts where their duties included recounting the tribal history and genealogy, composing commemorative songs, and performing at important tribal events.

Today Papa Susso is a goodwill ambassador traveling around North America to share his culture with others. In his concert performances he recounts the history of his country and his people, discusses the roles of griots in West African culture, and performs the classics songs of the griot repertoire. He will be joined in his performance by a dancer/singer and one other musician.

Papa Susso has performed for several heads of state and the United Nations organization. He is a premier performer in the "American Classic African Portraits" by Hannibal Peterson. He has performed at New York City's Carnegie Hall twice, and has played with the Baltimore, Detroit, Kalamazoo, San Antonio, St. Louis and Chicago symphonies, as well as with the Louisiana Philharmonic of New Orleans and Kazumi Watanabe Opera of Tokyo, Japan.

Tickets for regular admission to Alhaji Papa Susso's performance are $8 in advance and $10 at the door, and tickets for children 18 and under are $5. Advance tickets are on sale at the ticket office in the main lobby of the DeVos Fieldhouse, which is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be called at (616) 395-7890.

The DeVos Fieldhouse is located at 222 Fairbanks Ave., between Ninth and 11th streets. The Park Theatre is located in downtown Holland, 248 S. River Ave., between 10th and 11th streets across from Centennial Park.