Spirit of West Africa Festal Celebrates the African Artists in Our Own Backyard

The Northwest Folklife Festival is a celebration of how traditions of world cultures are kept alive in the Northwest. It sounds like this year the Spirit of West Africa is moving in a similar direction, featuring more and more West African artists and musicians in our own backyard!

Seattle Center Festál Spirit of West Africa Highlights the Influences of West African Cultures in Music, Dance and More

Seattle Center Festál presents Spirit of West Africa, Saturday, May 11, 12 p.m. – 8 p.m., in Seattle Center Armory. The festival invites visitors to explore and experience the cultural roots and contemporary influences of West Africa through live performances, visual arts, hands-on activities, foods, games, and a lively marketplace.

The annual festival expands this year to include artists and performers whose expression clearly reflects the influence of West African culture, but who live and work in Seattle and call this city their home, regardless of where they were born. They come from places like Trinidad, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Peru, Columbia, Brazil, Guyana and the list could go on.

Under the direction of Senegalese born Thione Diop, Festál: Spirit of West Africa, has always focused on music and dance as performed by West African artists, many of them brought to Seattle just for this festival as guest performers. The more expansive view this year considers the fact that Seattle is now home to many artists from the these nations as well as the great African Diaspora, that vast region of the Americas created by the trans-Atlantic slave trade, who continue to practice their traditional arts. In addition, many American-born artists consciously work in mediums, especially music, that emphasize and celebrate West African cultural ideas and values.

Thus, the exciting and accomplished performers at this year’s festival will feature music and dance from the following cultures:

  • Afro-Peruvian traditions De Cajon
  • Caribbean steel drums – Cover Your Ears Steel Band
  • Afro-Brazilian dance – Dora Oliviera
  • Afro-Cuban Ceremonial music – Omo Alagba Bata’
  • Traditional and contemporary music and dance from the following Senegal – Sabar with Mapate Diop,

Thione, Gora Diop with Yeke Yeke and dance with Sumaya

  • Guinea – Mamady Mansari
  • Ghana – Obo Addy’s Ghanain Legacy.


An art workshop and an Africa-Seattle fashion show, Best of Both Worlds, will add to the fun and enjoyment. Admission is free as part of the Seattle Center Festál series.

Seattle Center Festál, a series of 22 celebrations presented by community organizations with support from Seattle Center, considers themes of importance to ethnic cultures in our region, revealing their common forms of tradition and expression, while highlighting their unique contributions to the Pacific Northwest and the world.

Spirit of West Africa is produced in partnership with Spirit of West Africa Committee. For more information on the festival, visit thionediop.com. Click on www.seattlecenter.com or call 206 684-7200 to learn more about Seattle Center Festál and other outstanding public programming offered at Seattle Center.


About Seattle Center Festál


Seattle Center Festál 2013 presents a series of 22 world festivals on weekends throughout the year highlighting the distinct cultures and common threads of ethnic communities in our region through traditional and contemporary art, music, foods, youth activities, workshops and more. This collection of cultural events is produced with the generous support of Coca-Cola, The Boeing Company, T-Mobile, Wells Fargo, Real Networks, and KUOW 94.9 Public Radio. Additional support is provided by 4Culture, Washington State Arts Commission and the City of Seattle.