Audiences will enjoy two solo musicians with distinct musical and cultural backgrounds performing together in a unique pairing when American gospel singer Joshua Nelson and Ivory Coast traditional dance and drum master Vado Diomande collaborate on stage. They will be joined by accompanist drummer Moussa Drame.
The performance will be followed by a Q&A conversation between the artists and the audience.
The Mini-Global Mashup series has been curated by acclaimed trumpeter and composer Frank London of The Klezmatics, who has himself performed in Flushing Town Hall’s original, large-scale global mashups series.
“Audiences can look forward to enjoying phenomenal, world-class performers whose music is tied to their traditions but simultaneously modernized and fused with other musical elements that expand their borders,” London said.
Ellen Kodadek, executive and artistic director of Flushing Town Hall, referred to Nelson and Drame as “extraordinary talents” saying that it’s an honor for them to grace the stage.
“Our Mini-Global Mashups are always a great experience — and ‘Gospel Meets Côte d’Ivoire’ will be another ride of discovery for our audience,” Kodadek said.
Nelson is both a Jewish Gospel singer in the tradition of Mahalia Jackson and a full-time Hebrew teacher in the Hebrew school at Sharey Tefilo-Israel, a Reform synagogue in South Orange, NJ, when he is not on the road. He also serves as director of music at Hopewell Baptist Church in Newark, which is housed in the building of a former synagogue (the former B’nai Jeshurun).
Nelson has performed with musical legends including Wynton Marsalis, Aretha Franklin, Stephanie Mills and Billy Preston, as well as gospel singers Albertina Walker, the Barret Sisters, Hezekiah Walker, Kirk Franklin, Dottie Peoples, Dorothy Norwood, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Reverend Timothy Wright and Bobby Jones & New Life. Nelson also performs frequently with the Jewish Klezmer band The Klezmatics and performed with the late jazz greats Cab Calloway and Dizzy Gillespie.
Diomande has danced since the age of 4, learning the dance and drum traditions of his Mahouka people. He learned over 60 ethnic dance and drumming traditions from the Ivory Coast and other West African countries. His repertoire elevated his career to eventually choreographing and touring extensively throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia.
In 1989 he established L’Ensemble Kokiegna d’Abidjan, which has resided in New York City as the Kotchegna Dance Company since 1994. In Diomande’s native language Mahou, “kotchegna” means messenger.
Diomande’s troupe’s goal is to inspire joy and understanding through the power of dance and drum, promoting the exchange of culture worldwide. He continues to strengthen his experience as a choreographer, artistic director, teacher and performer. Diomande is also a teaching artist for Flushing Town Hall.
In-person tickets for the show are $12 for Flushing Town Hall members and $15 for non-members. Those who are unable to attend in person can view the livestream for free at youtube.com/flushingtownhall/live.
Donations are encouraged to support the additional costs of livestreaming so audiences everywhere can enjoy the concert.