Jun. 16, 2014 by Wesleyan Alumni Community
Sam Dickey MA’14, who recently completed his MA in ethnomusicology, talks about composing music steeped in the tradition of Malian music and playing guitar and ngoni for Benyoro, a hybrid American-Malian band.
Benyoro plays a free show at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas on Friday, June 20 at 6 p.m., in New Haven, CT. More info
Benyoro is a hybrid American-Malian band steeped in West African traditions but also willing to play with them, respectfully, a little. The group plays a free show at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas on the green in New Haven on Friday, June 20, at 6 p.m. The band’s guitarist and ngoni player Sam Dickey spoke to CTNow about Benyoro and the group’s self-titled debut, due out in early July.
Dickey, 25, just completed his masters in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan in Middletown. (When we spoke he was riding the Metro North back to Connecticut to retrieve his car before returning to Brooklyn, where he lives.) Dickey’s connection to [West Africa] goes back to childhood. He lived in Burkina Faso, which borders Mali to the southeast, for two years starting when he was four. Dickey’s father was in the Peace Corps, and so he was exposed to the music and culture of the region. Upon returning to the U.S., Dickey’s family routinely hosted West Africans. But as a young guitarist Dickey first gravitated toward jazz, attending Berklee College of Music. At Wesleyan he wrote his thesis on regional guitar styles and variations in West African music.
“I’m trying to really do my homework and show my respect to the style,” says Dickey. “At the same time I feel like if I’ve put in all my work, then I’m almost obligated to put my own spin on it.”
Image: c/o Benyoro
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- Benyoro pays tribute to Mali’s musical heritage
- Benyoro’s website
- VIDEO: Benyoro – “Famadenke” Live at Joe’s Pub
- Sam Dickey on Youtube