Butterfly Healing For Maya

Maya Nsani Amy Golt-Foggis

In Honour of Maya Nsansi Amy Bitendi Golt:

December 25th 1988 – September 21st 2013

Lord-Eric-Sugumugu

Paapa Jeh Mensah (arm drum), Lord Eric Sugumugu (arm drum), Robert Goldsmith (sax), Baba Adesose Wallace (arm drum) Photo: Courtesy of JJ Otieno

The evening of Saturday 2nd November 2013 was indeed an evening that will remain eternally in the hearts and minds of all those who attended and performed at The Forge, Camden Town in London. It was an evening in honour of Maya the dearly departed, much loved and sorely missed daughter of Debbie Golt, whose brave fight for her life came to an end toward the latter part of 2013. So it was that all the great and the good of African World Music and DJs converged under the WOM@TT banner at the Forge in Camden Town for a night of inspirational and uplifting music dedicated to Maya’s memory.

It was fitting that the respected African elder statesman and Master Drummer Lord Eric Sugumugu had been invited to give the introductory blessings to the event, paying tribute to the event organisers WOM@TT; the artist and DJs who had given up their time; all those in attendance; the African, the British and international ancestry; and of course the final blessing went out to Maya. Lord Eric then went on to introduce our compere for the evening was Rosemary Laryea aka Lady Rosemary from Jazz FM.

After reiterating that all the artists performing that evening had given up their time for free, Lady Rosemary proceeded to introduce British/Nigerian acoustic vocalist Lánre. Lánre explained that the tune she was performing was initially written in honour of her mother but was a fitting dedication to the memory of Maya.

Lánre was followed by another talented female singer/songwriter and drummer Folasade Babarinde, who initially started out dancing to African music that has made a successful transition to performing it. Folasade performed a song of love and praise, her own composition, in Yoruba and English languages.

Folasade-Babarinde

Folasade Babarinde
Photo: Courtesy of JJ Otieno

Thibaut-Remy

Thibauld Remy
Photo: Courtesy of JJ Otieno

Next to grace the stage was French/Afghani guitarist Thibauld Remy who sang two beautiful world music songs on his acoustic guitar. It was his first time playing solo as he is usually is part of a seven piece Afro-Cuban band.

Sona-Jobarteh

Sona Jobarteh
Photo: Courtesy of JJ Otieno

Another guitarist Sona Jobarteh was smoothly introduced by our host lady Rosemary. Sona sang a song in dedication to Maya from the Mandingo region of West Africa. Appropriately it was a song of loss traditionally played on the Kora but given a sweet and sensitive interpretation by Miss Jobarteh with her guitar.

Making it a hat-trick of back-to-back guitarists was Zak. He entered stage left and proceeded to each strum out composition entitled Guitar-Sheeda about a man whose focus is only three things money, women and drink. The fresh bluesy/folksy acoustic sound was very refreshing and the percussive bells he wore on his fingers as he is strummed the guitar made it particularly unique performance.

Mosi-Conde

L-R: Thibauld Remy (guitar); Tony Dudu (guitar); Mosi Conde (kora); Milles Baguettes (drums); Jaques Sambeni aka Kudja (Djembe or Lap-drum). Photo: Courtesy of JJ Otieno

At this juncture Lady Rosemary reminded us of Maya’s love of both butterflies and poetry and of a forthcoming get-together a week hence where some of Maya’s poetry would be recited. Then an ad hoc six piece band featuring renowned Kora player Mosi Conde fanned out across the WOM@TT platform and proceeded to play the most delicious, swaying African tune. Amazing given the fact that they had all just met that evening.

Adelaide McKenzie, the founder of Blessed Soul UK UK and consummate vocalist made an unusual and refreshing entrance. Advancing from the shadows at the back of the venue, Adelaide gradually meandered towards the stage, singing the most beautiful a cappella tribute to Maya poignantly entitled Butterfly Healing. Once on stage, having paid her own personal tribute to Maya, she repositioned herself behind the piano to perform a most hauntingly whistful song, “I’m Falling in Love” The audience showed their appreciation for such an enriching performance.

Princess Emmanuelle paid tribute to Maya with her very own version of Erika Badu’s “On and On,” a song Maya was very fond of herself.

Namvulla-Rennie

Namvula Rennie
Photo: JJ Otieno

A barefooted, elegantly dressed and angelic voiced, Namvula Rennie was accompanied on guitar by the famed Gregg Kofi Brown from legendary Afro Jazz band Osibisa. Namvula chose to sing a song about walking through life with courage and strength and appropriately dedicated it to Debbie Golt, Maya’s mother and best friend. The two guitars complimented each other beautifully; again such a pure joy as neither artist had met prior to performing on stage.

Juwon-Ogungbe

Juwon Ogungbe
Photo: JJ Otieno

The standard of musicianship had been exemplary and the evening continued in that vein when lady Rosemary introduced Outerglobe artist and renowned opera singer Juwon Ogungbe. However for this evening he treated us to a blissful rendition of the song in his native Yoruba dialect. Sitting comfortably at the piano, Juwon explained his close relationship to Maya’s parents and sister. Although not having met Maya himself, he was aware of her gentle persona, and as previous artist had done he offered up a wholesome vocal offering to Maya, wherever she may be.

Gregg Kofi Brown then took to the stage as bandleader in his own capacity, with a band he put together with the musicians available on that evening; and they sounded mightily impressive. The Jit-Jive rhythm the band created was infectious and midway through the tune Mr Kofi Brown and Namvula got their serious African dance groove on. Good vibes all round.

Tony-Dudu-Pappa-Jeh-Mensah-Lord-Eric-Sugumugu-Baba-Adesose-Wallace

Yaaba Funk: Helen McDonald (vocals), Paul Brett (guitar), Tobias Sturmer (keys); Robin Hopcraft (sax); Idris Rahman (sax); Paapa Jeh (drums); Clive Wales (percussion) Photo: JJ Otieno

More Outerglobe artists in the form of UK-based Afro-Funk band “Yaaba Funk” took over the WOM@TT stage with their seven piece ensemble. Lady Rosemary informed us that the word “Yaaba” means comeback, explaining that it is a Ghanaian word as she herself hails from Ghana. Once our compere had made her exit stage left, the familiar intense and driven Yaaba Funk sound took a hold.

Miles-Baguettes

Milles Baguettes
Photo: JJ Otieno

Their energy and exuberance even had Lord Eric Sugumugu enticing an understandably emotionally overwhelmed Debbie Golt to the dancefloor where the two of them stepped to the rhythm. Their second jam was an even funkier affair as Helen McDonald and the bands picked up the pace as if to prove that they could still put on a first-class performance even though two thirds of their members were not available to join them – and they sure enough succeeded.

At the conclusion of Yaaba Funk’s set Lady Rosemary explained that Debbie Golt had just whispered in her ear to thank the performers and everybody in attendance coming out to support the memory of Maya and make it such the treasured experience for Debbie and her family. She was truly moved and humbled.

Bumi-Thomas

Bumi Thomas
Photo: JJ Otieno

The last artist that this scribe was privileged enough to enjoy before departing was the mellow, uplifting and encouraging vibes of singer/guitarist Bumi Thomas. Bumi paid a glowing tribute to Maya, as well as edifying and praising her mother Debbie for effectively being a foster mother to a plethora of African, Caribbean and Latin singers and musicians and reassuring her that her musical family will always be there for her to lean on and call upon. Bumi, whom it transpired afterwards was not officially on the list to perform, dedicated her perfectly selected song of love entitled “Walk with Me”, to Debbie to help her stay strong in the weeks, months and years ahead.

The evening continued, and I understand that there was another such touching performance by Gifty Naa DK, a Ghanaian songstress who in her early years performed in a band which shared alternate headlining spots with none other than Fela Kuti whilst touring across West Africa. She also played in Maya’s father Nsimba Foggis’s band, the UK’s first founded African group – the mighty Taxi Pata Pata during the mid-80s. Quite a resume indeed! And to think all these artist and DJs on the evening gave up their time for free in honour of a truly exceptional young lady, Maya Golt. It was indeed a blessed evening.

Michael J Edwards

Essential poems by Maya:
“Butterlfy”
“She Can Feel It”
“Permanent Light”

Essential Thank you’s:

Thank you to ALL the artist and DJ’s who gave up their time to honour the life of Maya.
Thank you to Maya’s parents Nsimba and Debbie for providing the world with such a pure and gifted spirit.
Event organisers: Wala Danga & Fred E Kwaafo of WOM@TT and Kwasi for his sterling and unseen work backstage.
WOM@TT is: (Wala Danga, Fred E Kwaafo, Wil Joseph Lowenthal & Debbie Golt)
NB* WOM@TT is an organisation set up to celebrate UK-based African, Caribbean and Latin artists.

Essential Websites:
Outerglobe

butterfly-healing

travelling the spaceways since 1993