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Oko Drammeh
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Oko Drammeh, a well known Gambian music promoter and event organiser was born and bought up in Banjul. He has travelled far and wide in Europe, Africa and America and has vast experience in music.

Drammeh was born and raised in the Gambia, West Africa and grew up as a disc Jockey for radio stations, 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.

He is a producer, ethnomusicologist and founder and chairman 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 catalogue 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. He is also the creative force behind The Soto Koto Band.

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 instrumental 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 Scandinavia. 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.

Political Life:
He was involved with many organisations, which later established the Movement of Justice in Africa (MOJA), and he took part in many of the pocket meetings and we had radical groups that even sabotaged government utilities. He was arrested following the failed coup in 1981 and charged with treason as he had fought as a group and battalion leader. He was kept in various detention cells and was lucky to be released alive as quite a few died in the cells.

Sotokoto Band, Rebecca Atanga, Jaliba Kuyateh and the Afro Beat Gang.

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Official Website:
Contact Address Details:
Prunuslaan 43, 2612 VL
Delft, Holland
22 Daniel Goddard Street
Banjul, Gambia
West Africa
Phone: +220.393635
Fax : 00220224154

Short Bio:
Oko Drammeh is one of the leading promoters of African music festivals in the world. His festival in Amsterdam, launched in 1973, has grown into a major event, drawing more than ten thousand people annually. Drammeh organized the first African music festival in the United States, holding the fete at the John Anson Ford Theatre in Los Angeles in September 1997.

Born in Gambia and based in Holland, Drammeh was one to accurately predict a increase in the popularity of Africa's music. Although there were few African musicians known outside of Africa, when he began the festival in Amsterdam, Drammeh has continued to widen his scope. In an interview with the L.A. Times, he said, "There's a wide range of cultures in Africa. Music from the north is mostly stringed instruments and horns. From the Savannah, it's mostly drums because they have huge trees. I decided to base my program on generations -- past, present and future. A (veteran act such as) Hugh Masekela or Osibisa is the fabric. Samba Ngo is a young ZAirean guitar player. With this program, you have to mix it like a salad".

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