All about David ... his story, his accomplishments, the joy that music brings to him, and the joy he brings to others
" In my home country of Senegal, I became a Master Drummer. It is what I do, in many places and in many forms. It shapes the rest of my life. I love what I do".
David's first home was in Senegal, the western-most country in Africa. He has memories of growing up in Dakar, with the scent of the Atlantic, the sand of the beaches and the music of the people inspiring him. African and World music have been David's lifelong passion. He formed his first rhythm band when he was 14 years old, and began a lifetime of world travel learning about musical genres and their relation to - if not their debt to - West African rhythms. David has been playing music his entire life, but nor did he ignore his formal education - a total of 26 years of recognized educational attendance, including 7 years of classical education in Latin and Romance languages.
Over the years, David has been able to travel and play in all continents and many countries including Russia, Singapore, Brazil and others. In the 1970's, he made Canada his home and has lived and worked in Montreal, in Vancouver, in the interior of British Columbia and in Alberta.
In his early years in Alberta and British Columbia, David was influential in building the thriving communities of local musicians which both provinces enjoy. His band named Domba (Wolof for the "power of belief"), built on percussion, brass and strings, performed often and widely. He now focuses on musical and cultural education through school residencies, conducting workshops, teaching, performing and crafting his highly-prized professional instruments.
And what a legacy he brings. David's talent and his love of music shine! He has been privileged to work and play with many singers, instrumentalists and choirs from many places, including: music schools such as Suzuki, Kodaly, and ORFF; choirs such as Calgary Girls' Choir, In the Pink, Juba, Marnie Strom's Youth Choir (using djembe, shakere and sabar); performing artists such as Linda Tillery, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Nouvelle Aire Dance Co, Miroslav Vitrous, Charlie Biddle, Pepper Adams and Oliver Jones; performances such as the Banff Centre's recent work building an operetta around The Last King of Scotland (with Stephen MacNuff); international schools in Singapore; Alberta schools and programs such as Strathcona-Tweedsmuir, the Calgary Board of Educations's "Connections" and many schools from elementary through to secondary grades. David's influencers have included Ladji Kamara (later, a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company), Zak Diouf (the resource for Quincy Jones on the score for Roots), and Manfila Kante (a legendary singer, composer and guitarist).
Music is language. Musical language and spoken language influence each other. David, as have many multilingual musicians, has become expert at matching musical rhythms to their culture of origin and to the spoken language of their people. He is fluent since childhood in Wolof and French, has learned Spanish and English admirably and now writes, teaches and performs in them, and he can converse in Portuguese.
Growing up in a culture where music was part of the every-day not only started David on the path he walks today but also nurtured his strong belief that the ability to play and sing is a human right shared by all - not only a privilege for the talented or the wealthy or the experienced. His passionate belief in the power of music to bring fellowship and peace to the world underly much of his work. David works tirelessly to pass on knowledge through in-school artist-in-residence weeks, workshops with keen amateurs, coaching with professionals who want to sharpen their rhythm and percussion, and work on publications which communicate his knowledge.
And yes - he plays wonderful music!
"I come from a culture where much is spoken and less is written. I don't have a written CV. I share it by speaking.
"If I had all afternoon - or all day - or all week - or even a month, there is so much that I could share with you, a reader of my website. The limited space forced choices. I am honoured to share with you just a few of the things I have learned - just some of the knowledge I have gained - that has meant much to me in my journey. What you read about in this website - I have done".
"I recall way back, after I came to Canada, when we started drumming in Montreal. That was in the 1970's. I had arrived without a single drum, which I regretted. Then one evening near Café Mo-Jo, I heard beautiful music from wind instruments, conga drums and percussion. I arrived to find that somebody had brought a beautiful djembe but nobody could make it "speak". So I did. To my best knowledge, it was the first time a djembe had been played in Canada. So it started in Café Mo-Jo and soon became a regular Sunday outdoor gathering in Parc Mt. Royal, 2 blocks away. Tea and biscuits and cheesecake only, a family affair. Sayyd Abdul Al-Khabbyr who played sax (and later played with Duke Ellington and Dizzie Gillespie) and his 5 children played with us, also Dido Morris (RIP). The tradition continues today, and has become a mainstay of Sunday Montreal activity".
"I fondly remember the day when I received the National Order of Merit of Senegal, bestowed by His Excellency Senegal President Leopold Sedar Senghor, Poet Laureate, a prolific writer in French and French was not even his native tongue, organizer of the first-ever festival in Dakar of the African Diaspora, and also a longtime member of the ACADEMIE FRANCAISE DES LETTRES. The Order of Merit was given to me (and also to each of my 15 team-mates) because we had won the African Continental Championship in basketball".
"I come from a developing nation. Since moving to Canada, I have become friends with many members of Canada's first nations. I have great affinity with their struggles and I suffer with their difficulty in finding their strength. Amongst them, I have been called a "pipe carrier" (i.e., a messenger)"
" Yes - it is spelled THIAW but it is pronounced like CHOW. A lot easier to say that way".
Copyright Domba Productions 2017