Three amazing memorial services were held for Obo this past weekend – and what memorable services they were – all so different and heartfelt. We truly thank all of you for coming out to celebrate & remember Obo’s life with us.
On Friday night the Ghanaian community organized a traditional Ghanaian wake keeping – that included much drumming, dancing, wonderful food and pageantry. Our speakers honored Obo on behalf of the Sierra Leone community, the Nigerian community and the Ghanaian community. On Saturday evening we held a public memorial at Lewis & Clark Agnes Flanagan Chapel where we were able to remember Obo’s contributions to many areas of the music and the arts with a multitude of beautiful performances and spoken tributes. On Sunday we were able to memorialize Obo in the faith he practiced SGI Buddhism held at the Oregon Buddhist Center.
We, his family, want to thank all of you who have shared your memories of Obo either with us directly, through cards or by posting on the Caring Bridge site. We encourage you to continue to post memories and stories of your time with Obo on www.caringbridge.org/visit/oboaddy as we plan to put these posts into a book to take to Ghana to share at the large memorial service to be held in Accra. (Please do not donate funds on the Caring Bridge website).
After all of these wonderful remembrances here in Portland we have one goal left to attain for Obo. We are now in the final stretch of fundraising to allow us to honor Obo’s legacy with a traditional ceremony in Ghana appropriate for his position as a Chief in the Sowutuom region of Accra. For this ceremony, Susan and a family member will need to fly to Ghana for traditional services as Obo’s title of Chief is passed from him to the next chosen person.
Please help us reach this goal by Saturday, October 20th. Any amount will help – we are very close to our goal.
For those who have already contributed – we sincerely thank you for your generosity. Your gifts enabled us to present these memorial services in Portland and to assist with covering the expenses associated with Obo’s illness.
Obo worked as long as his body allowed, realizing that continuing to play and listen to his music was cathartic as he moved through this final step of this illness. His most recent performance was August 19 with Portland Taiko at the Mt. Scott Community Center. He is still hoped to record one last song he wrote at Falcon Studios.
A vigorous supporter of world music, Obo has been extremely active in bringing that style of music to Portland and Oregon, where he has lived with his wife Susan since 1978. Through numerous in-school residencies, performances and workshops, Obo has affected hundreds of thousands of lives in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. It’s difficult to find a child who grew up in Portland in the 80s and 90s that doesn’t hold fond memories of Obo and his drumming.
Obo's charismatic spirit, rapid-fire hands, and powerful voice have led him to receive the National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts under President Bill Clinton, the Governors Award for the Arts in Oregon, The Masters Fellowship from the Regional Arts and Culture Council and the Masters Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission.
He was on the faculty at Lewis & Clark College until his passing, and was the artistic director of the Obo Addy Legacy Project, formerly known as the Homowo African Arts and Cultures, a not-for-profit organization founded by the Addys in 1986 as a virtual cultural center with offerings in schools, parks, community centers and performance venues all over the country. The organization put on an annual Homowo Festival in Portland for nearly 15 years with music and dance, food, vendors and art demonstrations from various countries within the continent of Africa and the African Diaspora.
ABOUT OBO ADDY
Born in 1936 in Accra, the capital of Ghana, Addy is the son of a Wonche medicine man, and by the age of six was designated as a drummer. Addy’s family was part of the Ga ethnic group, and he was raised playing in the musical traditions of the Ga people.
Addy got his professional start in Ghana by playing with the Joe Kelly Band, the Ghana Broadcasting Band, and the Farmer’s Council Band, which played popular American and European music. In 1969, he was hired by the Arts Council of Ghana as a Ga master, and he received his first international exposure at the Munich Summer Olympics in 1972. Addy lived in London and spent six years touring internationally until 1978, when he moved to Portland. There he met and married his wife Susan who began managing his career.
Addy has maintained two different ensembles: Okropong, which means “eagle” in the Ga language, and Kukrudu, which is Ga for “earthquake.“ Okropong relies on traditional instrumentation, using hand and stick drums, bells, and shakers to create a layered rhythmic effect. Dance is also an important part of the performance, along with singing. Kukrudu is an eight-piece African jazz group that relies on a mix of European and African instruments.
For more information on Obo's music, visit www.oboaddylegacyproject.org.