Baba Kwasi is the co-founder of the Ayubu Kamau Kings and Queens, founded in 1996. The company provides performing arts and Cultural enrichment programs focused on character building and cultural awareness through education and preservation of universal principles found in African centered arts, history and legacy of the Diaspora of African culture and it's contribution to world cultures.
Baba Kwasi leads by example through teaching, consulting, performing and providing motivational lectures and storytelling dealing with history, heritage, culture, life skills and the science of communication through music, language, body language, sounds and vibrations.
Communication with the drum was extended to the pursuit of a masters degree in Computer Science and Project Management. For over the 25 years Baba worked as a Sr. Project Manager, an Executive Support Manager and Sr. Consultant for various corporations including Xerox and Sprint Corporation.
Baba Kwasi serves as a folklorist with the Northeast Texas Library System “NETLS” http://www.netls.org and as an arts partner with Bigthought Thriving Minds http://bigthought.org, board member of the Dallas-Ft. Worth International Community Alliance and the Dallas-Ft. Worth International African Leadership Council. www.dfwinternational.org
Baba Kwasi has appeared on various TV and cable programs, a frequent guest on the Houston based Pan African Journal radio broadcast. Baba also conducts public speaking, diversity, world day and cultural enrichment programs for corporations, churches, organizations and schools throughout the city, state and country.
The Early Years
I was born in Long Island off the eastern shores of the Atlantic ocean, in a community named Brownsville, borough of Brooklyn, New York. Before my birth, my parents and grandparents lived in a near by Brooklyn community named Canarsie, close to the shores of Jamaica Bay. I began playing drums at the age of six, under the teachings of my uncle Shams D. Abdul Sabur, during what was called the Afro-Cuban arts movement of the 1960's and 70’s.
My uncle had many Jazz friends, some of whom would come to his home and have jam sessions. He would give me a set of bongos or a conga and teach me a simple beat that fit the groove they were playing. He also taught me how to play trumpet as it was one of his favorite instruments. I did not realize until many years later that our communities were more like villages. Everyone seemed to know everyone and families lived in the same homes and projects for many years, even generations. There was a sense of community, responsibility, self -determination, creativity and purpose demonstrated in the lives and activities of the adults in the community. This life experience and perspective sticks with me to this day.
As children, if we did anything wrong, often times the news would beat us home. People looked out for one another, bartered with each other like trading a cup of sugar for some butter or flour, rent parties, block parties and neighborhood associations that took pride in keeping the neighborhood look nice and clean. Today, many may not know the name of the person living next to them much less talk to them. Those early years were not perfect, but I can say that they had a positive impact on my life and how I treat others.
New York was an interesting place to be in regard to the music, sounds and vibrations throughout the city. People would play drums and other instruments, sometimes improvising with metal trash cans, tops, soda bottles and anything else that made the right sounds. In grade school it was a common for us to play rhythms on our wooden desk and chairs. During the summer I often fell asleep to the sounds of the drum as people would play them in near by parks and on the stoops and benches in front of their brownstone homes and in the courtyards of the projects.
The beat of the drums and the music and rhythms of African, Afro Cuban, Rumba, Calypso, Salsa, Soul Music, the Blues and "The Funk" resonated through the streets and neighborhoods throughout the city. My first opportunity to see and listen to an African Drum and Dance ensemble was at the 1965 Worlds Fair in Flushing Queens. The sound of the drums resonated on the fair grounds as my father was walking with me and my younger sister past a tent where Babatunde Olatunje and Baba Kwame Ishangi were performing. I stopped in my tracks to look and listen to what was going on. My father, who was big on Jazz and loved to play the xylophone took us under the tent to get a closer look. I was fascinated as it was the most beautiful and powerful performance I ever seen. It was an unexpected treat to re-connect with and learn from Babatunde and Baba Ishangi some 34 years later in Dallas, Texas.