West African Percussionist
Amy Lusk has been performing West African percussion for over 15 years. Since 2000, she began studying with Famoudou Konaté, world-renowned Master of Malinké music from Guinea, West Africa in 2000. Her love of the melodic, intricate rhythms of the Malinké people led her to travel to Guinea to study with Famoudou in the capital city of Conakry and in Famoudou’s home village of Sangbaralla, in the Hamana region where the djembe drum and its orchestra were born. (Bio continued below).
Together with Famoudou and the Elders of Sangbaralla Village, Helen and Amy originally created the Benkadi Project, a person-to-person effort to expand educational opportunities and health services for children and families in Sangbaralla, which has now expanded to assist other villages in Guinea. Translated, Benkadi means “To Live Together is Very Good.” The Benkadi Project builds cross-cultural connections and provides an opportunity to thank the Malinke people for sharing their rich musical and cultural tradition with people around the world.
Amy is on a life-long journey to develop her knowledge, skill and repertoire in Malinké rhythms and songs while sharing the beauty and joy of this music through performance and teaching. She currently performs with two ensembles that she and Helen Bond co-founded: Diamana Diya, an all female group which Famoudou Konaté himself named (translated “Make Good Music for the Land”) and Mboray Nani (“Four Friends”) with Atiba Rorie and Fodé Camara.
Amy began her study of hand-drumming as a “stress release” from graduate school, but she soon found that the drum had become much more than a hobby. She has also studied with Mamady Keita, Nansady Keita, Sayon Camara, Namory Keita, Kwasi Adounum, Yakob Kouyaté, Manu Walton and other percussionists in the US and abroad.
Amy has been an avid musician all her life. Amy has been involved in a number of performance groups that have integrated hand drumming into efforts to create broader social and cultural change. These have included the Women’s Action Coalition (WAC) Drum Core in Chicago, combining drumming and feminist activism, and the Lunacy performance ensemble, which blended drumming, poetry and song to celebrate women’s strength, lesbian visibility and the universal vitality of the human spirit. Lunacy performed in arts festivals across in the Midwest, including the Bailiwick Arts Festival, Art Attack, Around the Coyote, and Nights of the Blue Rider. Amy also co-founded and led the World Peace Rhythm Project, a women’s drumming ensemble at the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), a lay Buddhist association that promotes peace, humanistic culture and education, which performed at the “Drum, Dance and Pray for Peace” Festival in Washington DC and inspired the formation of similar drumming groups in other cities across the country.