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Meet YemiConga Yoruba Folk Jazz Band of YemiConga

Today we’d like to introduce you to YemiConga Yoruba Folk Jazz Band.

YemiConga, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
The intense natural flow of music that I felt from a very young age, that is where my story will begin. When I walk, run, play with dishes after a meal, I am either composing music in my head, humming it out, or playing drums on the dish after a meal. This moment were very special. However, I still go through the moments sometimes, although I manage the flow better now.

I was born in Lagos, Nigeria, I grew up in Johannesburg South Africa were my professional music career started. I have worked with South African Major Artists; Don Laka, Lira, Zonke Dikana, Selaelo Selota, Theo Kgosinkwe of Mafikizolo, Kunle Ayo and many more. Playing congas and other modern and African Percussive instruments was a gift from God, I didn’t go to school to learn music but over time I indulge in research on a different approach to playing congas over various genre from masters like Giovanni Hildago, Luis conte, Babatunde olatunji to mention but few. I didn’t want to sound like them either, so created my own sound and style which I am still working on, but this makes me feel unique and satisfied.

As a Professional Session Percussionist and Afro, World Jazz Artist, I have had the opportunity to perform with mainstream artists in South Africa at major international festivals like Cape Town international Jazz festival, Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, Arts Alive festival, Oppikopi Bushveld music festival, Mapungubwe Arts Festival etc. Also, traveling to the other African countries like Congo, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and others was a great experience. One of my favorite was when I was part of a group that represented South African National Art and Culture at the FESPAM festival in Congo Brazzaville.

In 2012, I recorded my first two singles “Iya Elepa and Do u understand”. These songs were born from a demand from fans who saw me perform with other artists, they wanted my recording. I have been writing music for my forthcoming album since then. My Album will have 10 tracks of great African inspired music, I can’t wait to share my album with the world. I will be doing a lot of pending gigs and tours shortly after my album release.

Early 2013, I traveled to the motherland, Nigeria to promote my music on the radio, did a workshop at Span Music academy banana highland Ikoyi Lagos state, and featured on Nigeria’s giant newspaper “Nigerian Tribune”, Lagos state news online publication.

Iya Elepa
Do u understand

In 2013 after a successful living and career in South Africa as one of the most sort after percussionist (Conga Player) I moved to Atlanta GA. Since then I have done gigs around great Atlanta and around the United States.

Venues I have performed in the South:

Atlanta No.1 Jazz venue ” Cafe 290″
Negril Village
Kats Cafe
City Winery in collaboration with Clubesque Show
Spartanburg International Jazz Festival (2017, Global Review Stage, Main Act)

Music is liberating for me, I breathe and live music. I don’t think I would have had a better life without music. Music chose me. I love to play congas, write songs and collaborate with other creative minds. I love the way music heals and makes this world a unified place without barriers no matter what the language is, you will always find your rhythm and move to the sound.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I am glad it wasn’t a smooth road to get to where I am now because the hurdles I have come across in my music journey is what is keeping me grounded to want to become better and also an inspiration to someone out there. Getting gigs as a session musician is tough, you need to hang out at the right spots or better still have a good connection no matter how good you are.

Recording an album is very expensive, funding is a great challenge if you don’t have enough finance or support from a record label or a sponsor.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
My major instrument is the Congas, Djembe and other African Drums. I do workshops in colleges on the African Drums, I teach how to play the congas when I am free, I do private functions for concerts and festivals. I am always proud of the feedback I get from all of my clients. My sound, music and performance style is systematically crafted to portray Africa and Yoruba folklore with energetic five-piece band

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I enjoyed been around music or listen to music a lot, my dad usually play a lot of music on his vinyl too. my personality was either too excited or just quite but I was an energetic kid who likes to run all over the community having fun. I liked to watch movies, hang out with friends.

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