Music, Performing Arts, Traditional Arts
Artist StatementUrban Foli (noun): City Music Urban Foli is a musical theater performance group that expresses traditional African drumming and dance bridged with contemporary sound and movements. The focus is to cultivate a mixture of West African and African American percussion and culture. Under ancient tradition, each ethnic group or percussionist develops their own sound; Urban Foli encourages its members to combine ancient teachings with the evolution of R&B and hip-hop culture. The goal is not only to preserve traditional music and history, but to continue the legacy of percussion and movement that has been passed down in the Americas. The group’s mission is to expose as many as possible, to this Neo-traditional sound called URBAN FOLI!
Menes Yahudah is a producer, musical conductor, playwright, teacher, professional drummer and a rising music mogul. His West African drumming career has span over 35 years. He is a 1994 graduate of Baltimore City College. During his musical studies both in the United States and abroad, Menes has blossomed into an accomplished musician.
At the tender age of two, Menes began drumming with his father and Baltimore’s Druid Hill “Park Vibe”. He later began his professional career as a drummer for the Sankofa African Dance Theater in Baltimore Maryland. Over the years, he has continued to perform with numerous professional companies and ensembles. In 2006, Menes received the Maryland Apprenticeship Grant to Baile McKnight [a Master Drum Craftsman, Drummer, Folklorist, and Educator], through the Maryland State Arts Council. Menes also spent many years studying under, Master Drummer Mamady Keita (and other village drummers during his numerous visits to the continent of Africa).
Menes has written and directed musical experiences including When the Moon Cries, which explores the evolution of African-American relationships on a multi-media scale.
A strong advocate for community work, he facilitates weekly African dance and drum classes, to nurture and stimulate the artistic, personal, and professional development. Menes developed a concise drum program that he runs in multiple schools. He is a leadership consultant and mentor with OBI (Our Boys Institute) Baltimore, led by Changa Oyango. Menes is also a main program facilitator at The Living Well where Maurissa Stone-Bass is Director.
Menes is the co-director of the annual Baltimore Rhythm Festival. Fellow organizers of the 2014 Baltimore Rhythm Festival said this, “Menes represents the pinnacle of virtuosity as an artist within the Mande djembe tradition. Menes is attempting to craft a new approach to African traditions amongst the American born, infusing respect for and deep study of African cultures with application of the principles and aesthetics of this culture to his own time and place.”
Menes Yahudah is considered one of the most sought after professional drummers in the Mid-Atlantic region. Menes has spent extensive time in the African countries such as: Guinea, Senegal, Gambia and the Ivory Coast, for the purpose of both performance and study. He has also travelled internationally to Asia and the Caribbean.
Menes has performed or collaborated with the likes of Mamady Keita, Omar Penne, Djimo Kouyate, Baile McKnight, Mahiri Fadjimba Keita, Maria Broom, Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Sweet Honey and The Rock, Famoudou Konate, and Papa Ladji Camari.
Menes is the founder and director of Urban Foli, a member of Farafina Kan and a ceritfied instructor with the Tam Tam Mandingue Djembe Academy.