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May 15: Spirit of Africa Features African Music and Dance Live from Dakar, Senegal

Seattle Center Festál:  Spirit of Africa Festival, 3 p.m.– 5 p.m., Saturday, May 15, celebrates the joyful, rich and diverse music, dance and culture of Africa, while it strives to engage the broader community in African culture and the importance of music and dance both today and throughout history. 

The festival, which live streams from Maison de La Culture Douta Seck, Dakar, Senegal, can be viewed on Facebook or on YouTube. Performances will be posted online for future viewing here.

Spirit of Africa Festival Poster

A local Senegalese Griot (a member of a class of traveling poets, musicians, and storytellers who maintain a tradition of oral history in parts of West Africa) musician, Thione Diop, founded the festival 14 years ago with a mission to bring people together in peace, love and unity. He is pleased to confirm an amazing lineup this year of six artists/ensembles: 

Orchestra Baobab occupies a special place in the history of African music beginning in the heart of Dakar’s Medina in the 1960s and extending across the world and into the 21st century. The orchestra features a brilliant assembly of diverse musical personalities and encompasses a unique blend of Afro-Latin styles, international pop, West African griot music and an after-dark West African nightclub ambience of lilting, mellifluous rhythms. 

Bakalama Danse, now in its 49th year, comes from the disciplines of movement, music and percussion. Its diversified activities revolve around traditional African songs and dances. Bakalama, meaning “calabash,” represents unity and rootedness in the Diola culture.  

Aida Mbaye, eldest daughter of the late Yandé Codou Sène, a highly respected Senegalese singer from the Serer ethnic group, was a back-up singer for her late mother and continues as an artist in her own right. 

At the age of 10, Ndo-M’bemba Kanoutè started playing kora with his uncle (a renowned musician in the griot world). After a few years of musical collaboration in France, he returned to Senegal and joined the jazz ensemble led by Mbassou Niang, forging his place among other traditional korists through jazz.  

Didier Awadi is undoubtedly the most visible figure in French-speaking African rap. He is also a member of the group Positive Black Soul, a hip-hop group based in Dakar, one of the first such collectives in the country. 

DJ Coco Jean, a popular radio personality in West Africa, emcees this year with an upbeat style that will energize the rhythm and flow of the festival. He will also introduce and interview the artists.  

To learn more about the program details click here

Seattle Center Festál highlights the culturally rich communities who help shape the character and course of our region. The series, presented virtually in 2021 provides a forum for cultural groups to come together and share their stories with the greater community. The series began in 1997 to offer a central place for festivals to invite the public to join in their unique cultural expression.  

Seattle Center presents Festál: Spirit of Africa in partnership with Spirit of Africa. Streaming is free of charge. For more information, visit or call 206-684-7200.  

About Seattle Center Festál: 

Seattle Center Festál, Where the World Gathers, presents 24 ethnic cultural festivals on weekends throughout the year, virtually in 2021, to connect people in ways that build understanding, dispel stereotypes and generate pride among the generations who participate in these shared experiences. Seattle Center Festál is produced with the generous support of KUOW 94.9 Public Radio, Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, 4Culture, the City of Seattle and Seattle Center Foundation.