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About Us

Akayaa Atule: Band Leader, Songwriter, Lead Vocals, Talking Drum
Akayaa Atule Drenched in the sun-bright rhythms of Africa, singer and drummer Akayaa Atule brings her own flavor of Ghanaian Highlife music to San Diego. Akayaa is a native of the Frafra tribe in the Upper East Region of Ghana. The daughter of a master drummer, she learned how to dance and drum almost as soon as she learned how to walk. As a young woman, Akayaa attended the Performing Arts School of Ghana, where she furthered her study of the talking drum and traditional dances. Then Akayaa came to California bringing with her the music and dance traditions of the Frafra tribe. As a teacher and performer, Akayaa has shared these traditions with people of all ages throughout California. She is currently a dance instructor at San Diego State University and Southwestern College, and at several elementary schools in San Diego through Young Audiences of San Diego. In addition to Akayaa and Bolga Zohdoomah, she is the founder of the dance and drumming ensemble Abaa Koma. She also conducts private dance and drumming workshops solo, and performs solo or with the band for company conferences, parties, cultural/street fairs, schools, special events, and more!

Todd Caschetta: Drums and Percussion
Todd Caschetta Todd has played drums in one form or another since 3rd grade. Currently he plays drum kit with Bolga Zohdoomah and occasionally with other rock and country musicians around San Diego. In his past lives he has been a symphonic percussionist, concert marimbist, gamelan musician, and student of African drumming. He lived for a year in The Gambia learning traditional drumming and dancing. He and Akayaa are co-directors of the Southwestern College African Drumming and Dance classes.

Nathan Mills: Trumpet, Trombone
Nathan Mills Nathan started playing trumpet at age 8 with instruction from his father, trombonist Richard Mills and began performing professionally with him at the age of 13. After graduating high school, he played for four years in the USMC New Orleans Bands (lead trumpet show band, 1st trumpet concert and field band). Since 1984, he played in many local bands, including four years as music director/lead trumpet of Big Time Operator (3 time San Diego Music Award winner). He has also played with: Buddy Blue, Black Mambo, Unsteady, Mambo Meshugana, Rollo, Shelle, Michele Lundeen, Kokopelli, Color, Mosaico, Jazzooty, Fabulous Ultratones, Jump Jones, Pacific Brass & Electric, Detroit Underground, Ruse Collective Orchestra (highlighting the 1st annual Big Sur Jazz Festival), Luna Llena, Swingin’ EZ Big Band, and Smokestax. Currently he performs with: Big Daddy Orchestra (Maryland), Ritmo Loco, Grapevine, Akayaa and Bolga Zohdoomah, Black Mambo Tribute, and Flamenco Nova.

Ali Thomas: Drums
Ali Thompson Ali began studying music at age 4. She studied voice, piano, flute, violin, tenor sax, guitar and bass guitar before finding the rhythms of the djembe. So fascinated, she traveled to visit master drummer Mamady Keita of Guinea, West Africa three times in the past five years, to learn to play this amazing instrument. The most recent trip took her all the way to the interior, to Mamady’s home village of Balandougou. Ali teaches at various San Diego Unified School Districts, working with grades K through 6. She teaches them the history of the Djembe and Dunun and respect for the culture behind the music.
Ali is also the Assistant Director and Certified Teacher of the San Diego branch of Tam Tam Mandingue, an international school of djembe founded by Mamady Keita.
Jeff “Sly Simon: Bass
Jeff

Scott Elbaremuni: Guitar

Hector D. Verdugo: Drums and Percussion

Andre Beller: Bass
Andre Beller As a San Diego native and San Diego State University graduate in Music Education, Andre’s love of music began when he picked up the electric bass as a teenager and started guitar classes and joined his school’s orchestra. He received his teaching credential in music in 2008. Apart from enjoying the upbeat rhythms and jazzy base lines of Bolga Zohdoomah, he also enjoys baroque, metal, jazz, and video game soundtracks like those from Nintendo and Super Nintendo.

Shoshana Small: Backup Vocals, Dancer

Bob Mathes: Saxophone
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Past Performance Venues

  • 4th and B
  • Autumnal Green Festival & Life on the Edge Symposium (Laguna Beach, CA)
  • Alliance for African Assistance
  • Belly Up
  • Blue Triangle Network, Day of Solidarity
  • Bravo
  • Center for Children
  • Christ Lutheran School
  • Cisco Systems Conference (Las Vegas, Nevada)
  • Corria Junior High School
  • KUSI Morning News
  • Linda Vista Cultural Fair
  • Local Farmer’s Markets (various)
  • Nations of San Diego International Dance Festival
  • NBC Television Station
  • RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows Meetings
  • San Diego Dance Alliance
  • San Diego Multicultural Festival
  • San Diego Zoo
  • San Diego Wild Animal Park
  • Southwestern College
  • Survivors of Cancer Day
  • Temple Bar (Santa Monica, CA)
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration
  • University Club
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of San Diego
  • Winston’s
  • World Beat Center
  • Wyngard City Heights Library