It is hard to believe that one year ago we were preparing for the arrival of Moustapha Faye, Aziz Faye and Malik Ngom to begin their residency in Boston. A great deal has happened in the months since then. It was a positively busy year in which classes were taught, presentations were given and concerts were performed; additional research was conducted and new materials were collected. It all served to advance the project a great deal. This is a synopsis of the highlights of the past year of the Géwël Tradition Project.

Distinguished Visiting Scholars Residency/Celebrate Senegal Series

On October 11, 2009 Moustapha Faye, Aziz Faye and Malik Ngom arrived in Boston to begin their two month residency as Distinguished Visiting Scholars at Suffolk University in Boston. A program created by the University’s College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s office to bring scholars and experts in their field to campus to share their skills with the university community during the semester. The Faye family residency has been the longest of the Visiting Scholars Program.

In conjunction with the Dean’s Office, the Black Studies Program and the Collection of African American Literature, brought in additional speakers and presenters to complement the offerings of the Faye family. This expanded the Visiting Scholars residency into a two month series titled Celebrate Senegal.

Through lectures, demonstrations, films, classes and performances Celebrate Senegal provided the university community and the greater Boston community an opportunity to learn about Senegal through the window of the Géwël tradition. (This was all documented on this blog through writing, photography and video)

CD Release: Moustapha Faye – Galan u Sabar ci Ngéwël (Nov  21, 2009)

Galan u Sabar ci Ngewel cover

Galan u Sabar ci Ngewel cover

The Géwël Tradition Project released its second CD since the 2007 Sing Sing Juniors Sabar Drum Ensemble. This new disc represents the work of Moustapha Faye, the oldest son of Vieux Sing Faye and Ndeye Thiam. The rhythms, arrangements, and choice of musicians were all his.

The Géwël Tradition Writer’s Project which was developed to provide a vehicle for young géwëls to write about aspects of their own tradition. The writers have made some progress and Mohamed Faye has completed a piece that will soon be posted on the Géwël Tradition Blog.

The Géwël Tradition Archives has had a positive year of growth and development. We are still organizing the more than 5,000 photographs that are in the archives. Most of the photographs were taken by R. Sipho Bellinger, although there have been contributions to the archives from four other photographers. There are also historic photos from personal collections of members of the Faye family. In July and August we added some additional photographic documentaries and portraits to the archives:

Photographic Documentaries

Celebration of the Victory of Rock Mbalax (July 2010)

Drapeau Sing Sing: Modou Lo and Baye Manjon (July 2010)

Tannabers and community life

The Géwël Tradition Blog has had an active year. The following entries were made:

Distinguished Visiting Scholars Residency: In writing, photographs and video the blog provided a documentation of the Faye family’s residency at Suffolk University .

Géwël in Boston

Atlantic Connections: Senegal and Haiti

CD Review: Galan u Sabar ci Ngéwël

The Sing Sing Géwël House as Popular Iconography

Sabar, A Short Film by Zapo

Magical Moments: Sabar Dance Photos from the Géwël Tradition Project Archives

Rock Mbalax defeats Ousman Diop

Lamb Ji

Developing Partnerships

The Géwël Tradition Project is presently cultivating partnering relationships with several educational institutions. This will enable us to work with the institutions to teach audiences in a wide range of settings and locales about the Géwël tradition.


CD Release: Sing Sing Faye ak ay Rakim: Sabar Xoot

Scheduled Release Date: November 3, 2010

sabar xoot cover

sabar xoot cover

The latest CD produced by the Géwël Tradition Project completes the trilogy of recordings that began in 2007 with the Sing Sing Juniors Sabar Drum Ensemble CD. That first CD documented the sabar style of the youth of the Sing Sing family, the youngest generation of drummers currently active in the Sing family. Last years CD – Galan u Sabar ci Ngéwël, arranged by Moustapha Faye, presents the sounds of the adult members of the family. The new CD, Sabar Xoot, featuring Sing Sing Faye, the present Baj Géwël of Dakar, and his brothers, is the sound of the elders of the Sing Sing family (60+ years). These are the sounds that are the root of the sabar you hear today. Listening to this CD transports one back into the 19th century, when the fathers and grandfathers of these musicians, the men who passed this tradition on to their children-now-elders, were defining many of the rhythms that are played today.

Taken collectively, this sabar CD trilogy is a document of a century of the sabar tradition of the Sing Sing family- from the early twentieth century to the early twenty-first century. It is a must have for everyone who likes sabar and anyone who likes drums and African music or history.

Projects for the 2010-2011 Year

The Géwël Tradition Project has had a successful year. However there is still a great deal of work to do. With that in mind we have set some goals for the upcoming year. We will of course continue the initiatives that are ongoing such as our research and documentation work, especially the audio and video documentation; working with the young writers in our Writer’s Workshop.  But we will also work on organizing materials for publication and for other presentations.

Preparing for 2011 Faye Family Residency

The Géwël Tradition Project is currently seeking funds to help support the upcoming 2011 residency of the Faye Family in the Greater Boston area. It is not possible for them to return as Distinguished Visiting Scholars in consecutive years so alternative sources of funding for this significant program are being sought.