Thursday, March 9, 2017

Janka Nabay Brings Bubu Music to North Adams

Posted By on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Janka Nabay
  • Janka Nabay

Bubu is the traditional music of the Temne people of Sierra Leone, a form originally used in witchcraft ceremonies and later adapted as processional music for Ramadan. The style was updated again in the 1990s during the Sierra Leonean Civil War by singer Janka Nabay, who will perform at Mass MoCA this Saturday.

The underlying message of bubu, Nabay maintains, is one of peace, good governance, and the empowerment of women. Although it has traditionally been played using bamboo and metal-pipe flutes and hand percussion, Nabay retooled the music by adapting it for modern electronic instrumentation. His early recordings became the rallying soundtrack for young rebels who were attempting to overthrow the government; this led to his fleeing to America to escape imprisonment. After a few years in Philadelphia, Nabay landed in Brooklyn and formed the Bubu Gang, which recently debuted on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label with En Yay Sah.

Here’s the official video for the En Yah Sah track “Somebody”:

Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang will perform at Mass MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, on March 11 at 8pm. Tickets are $10 for students, $16 advance, $22 day of, and $28 preferred. For more information, call (413) 662-2111 or visit http://massmoca.org/.

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