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Director, Soto Koto Music
Chairman, African Music Festival Worldwide

B I O G R A P H Y

Oko Drammeh
Oko Drammeh is a producer, ethnomusicologist and founder of the African Music Festival, one of the oldest and largest international African events which will celebrate it's 20-year anniversary in 2003. In addition to producing several CDs in the Soto Koto catalog for Higher Octave Music, which now are distributed by Virgin, Drammeh also has produced documentaries on African music and culture for BBC, written articles for Downbeat magazine and he has organized a host of festivals, concerts, symposiums and other cultural exhibitions.

Drammeh was born and raised in the Gambia, West Africa and grew up as a disc Jokey for radiostations, night clubs and social events, listening to western pop and rock music on the radio, while being influenced by the traditional music of Africa. He founded the African Music Festival in Delft, Holland in 1983 as a taste of home for Africans living in Europe. The event quickly became popular with the Dutch people and soon became a major tourist draw every summer, attracting fans from England, France, Germany and the United States.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2003, the African Music Festival has brought the stars of Africa to the international public. Drammeh introduced stars like Miriam Makeba (South Africa), Youssou Ndour (Senegal), Toure Kunda (Senegal), Mory Kante (Guinea) and Salifu Keita (Mali) to the attention of the international listening public. He was also instumental in introducing the music of, among others, Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Randy Weston (USA) Manu Dibango (Cameroon) and Osibisa (Ghana)to European audiences.

The cultural diversity between the artists is immense, in such a way that visitors of the Festival can really sample the musical history of the African continent. In addition to the Netherlands, the Festival has also been held in Africa and the United States. Drammeh also has produced events in France, Germany, England and Scandanavia. He has been one of the most consistent forces in the promotion of African music and culture. As organizer of the renowned African Music Festival, this Gambian-born producer, now residing in Europe, has been a major force in presenting a great variety of African singers, composers and instrumentalists, from the traditional to the contemporary as well as the obscure.

In 2001, Drammeh brought the Night of the Griots on a U.S. tour that exposed the culture, music and instruments of the Manding people to American audiences in the first step of a cultural exchange between Banjul, the capital of The Gambia and Austin, TX. The events, which took place in several U.S. cities, were recorded for an upcoming DVD.

"Music, as a reflection of our emotion is our way of love and communication with the Universe," says Drammeh.

In 2003, the African Music Festival will open offices in China and Japan to share the great diversity of African music and culture with Asian audiences.

Oko Drammeh can be contacted at okob@africanmusicfestival.com