Visiting Artist Forum
Guinean drummer VAF resource for 2013
Abass Camara a young master resident in Fort Wayne
The Visiting Artist Forum is an on-going project of short and long-term residencies for Afrikan and Diaspora artists, who conduct workshops and give performances at TRIAAC and the greater Fort Wayne community.
Abass Camara of Guinea, West Africa is an accomplished drummer and educator known throughout Guinea as one of its finest musicians. His studies with the drummers of the famous Ballet Hamana began when he was 15-years-old. He had a love for music and would go to the Ballet’s practices everyday until the members decided he was old enough to take him on as a student.
After a few years Abass was awarded a position as a dunun player for Ballet Hamana. There he grew his skills and expanded to playing jenbé. Eventually his position changed to playing and teaching dununs. After seven years with Ballet Hamana, Abass and three other artists started a music ensemble of their own, Ballet Watafre. With the support of members of Hamana, Abass became Watafre’s Musical Director, deciding on the music and the story being told as well as playing both lead jenbé and dununs. In addition, Abass was the principal instructor for Waterfre’s apprentice drummers.
Ballet Watafre became one of Guinea’s premier ballets, and its members are still playing together for festivals, ceremonies, and special occasions countrywide. In 2007 Abass left the Ballet and Guinea for America. In Fort Wayne he has taught and played with JATA, the former adult ensemble of the Three Rivers Institute of Afrikan Art & Culture; and taught for TRIAAC’s Three Rivers Jenbé Ensemble. He has also worked with Moustapha Bangoura, during Bangoura’s three-year residency with the TRJE. Abass frequently conducts residencies and appearances at local elementary schools.
During 2013 Abass is acting as the music director for the TRJE Re-Mix, combined of the remaining high school students of TRJE, former TRJE graduates, and JATA members. In March, TRJE Re-Mix will begin its season of public performances. TRIAAC will also host a weekend workshop in the spring featuring Abass Camara.