From S 8th Street to S 6th Street and Main, the rhythm of the djembe, a traditional West African drum, draws people in on the evening of Friday, June 25.
Cottage Grove Art Walk special guest, FodÃ© Isamael Sylla, performs alongside his friend Joshua Caraco. Caraco plays the kora, a string instrument from West Africa. Together, they weave a melody through the city center.
“Music is the answer,” says BJ Jones, who programmed FodÃ© to come and play. She is also the Executive Director of the Music Money Association in Cottage Grove. âPeople are just happy not only to be outside, but also to have music, live music downtown again, because it was a regular thing and then it’s gone. It feels good to see people’s smiling faces.
FodÃ© has played the djembe all his life, since he was very young, he says. He is originally from Guinea and ended up in the United States to perform for Cirque du Soleil. After three years of touring, he decided “to share my knowledge as a dance teacher and drum teacher, that’s how I ended up in Oregon.”
He met Caraco about three years ago at a show. There, Caraco played the kora, which he learned to play while studying abroad in Senegal in 2008.
FodÃ© recognized the instrument and “invited him to my group and when he has a show I join him and when I have a concert I invite him and we share music because music is about healing . “
“We can play together quite easily because [FodÃ©] knows the Kora repertoire well, âsays Caraco.
“We play [kora] when people are sad, when we lose people, we play for a funeral, âsays FodÃ©. âAnd when we celebrate, it’s also playing. As when we play the djembe, it is a universal language. He doesn’t know the color, the race, or anyone. Once you get your hands on it, it brings people together. It has been my passion, bringing people together and helping them live in the moment.
That evening, as they play, people gather at Opal Whiteley Park to listen and dance. The rhythm is almost spellbinding. The music is back at the Cottage Grove Art Walk.
âIt’s one of the most amazing things,â Jones says. “It’s a healing thing and it’s a fun thing.”
FodÃ© echoed Jones’ sentiment on the importance of music.
âCottage Grove, this is probably my third time staying here because as we all know we are going through a dark time right now. It’s hard and music, I think we all need music, âhe says. âMusic helps us to live in the present moment. It’s like moving, dancing and feeling our soul. So I call it a time of healing, and we’re happy to be here, to share with the community because it brings the community together, brings tolerance and peace.
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