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Dances of Lake Volta (2021)

Dances of Lake Volta emerges out of Songs of Lake Volta, a 2018 album that wove together nine Ghanaian folk songs with original chamber music. After completing Songs of Lake Volta, I imagined the same songs in a more vibrant, energetic context, and began to rewrite each piece to greater and lesser effect. These re-compositions, to which is added one additional piece based on a Ghanaian folk song, and an original afrobeat composition by Ghanaian musician Samuel Boateng, comprise Dances of Lake Volta.


At the heart of Dances of Lake Volta are ten folk songs from several ethnic groups within Ghana. These songs were learned from traditional musicians in Ghana over several trips to the country. For me, the songs cultivate a wisdom, beauty, and elegance that is mysterious and beautiful. I strove to preserve their integrity while creating original music to “dance” alongside. The final versions of these pieces were also shaped by the members of Kinetic, who added new ideas and nuances.


Kinetic is committed to supporting traditional music, musicians, and artists in Ghana. 40% of profits from Dances of Lake Volta will support the following Ghanaian cultural organizations: artists from the Jamestown Boutique, the Tamale Youth Home Culture Group (YHCG), and the African Heritage Dance & Drum Ensemble.


-Joe Sheehan



All tracks are Ghanaian folk songs with original music composed by Joseph Sheehan, except ‘Another Day’ (composed by Samuel Boateng).


Anita Levels: vocals (1, 11)

Mariko Reid: vocals (2, 3, 5, 7, 8), background vocals

Samuel Boateng: composer (6), vocals (4, 6, 10), organ (6), wurlitzer (6)

Roger Romero: alto, tenor saxophones (6)

Reggie Watkins: trombone (6)

Maya Brown-Boateng: background vocals (6)

Anthony Ambroso: guitar, composition (10)

Joseph Sheehan: piano, rhodes, mbira, kora, gyil, background vocals, percussion

Claude Flowers: bass

PJ Roduta: percussion, gyil

James Johnson III: drums, percussion


Thank You

Thank you to all of the amazing musicians who gave their artistry, creativity, and beauty to the record: Anita, Anthony, Claude, James, Mariko, Maya, PJ, Reggie, Roger, and Sam, who also contributed his composition ‘Another Day’. Thanks to Dave Hidek at the Church Recording Studio for the recording and editing sessions, and to Daniel May for mixing and mastering. Thanks to Sam Boateng for creating the album cover artwork, and to Steve Groves for the adaptations for physical CDs. Thanks to C.G. Geum for creating the music video for ‘Dusime’, and to Mackenzie Horne for curating the social media and press materials. Also, thanks to Julie Chiem for loaning her lovely kora.


Thanks to all of the exceptional Ghanaian musicians I worked, especially Atsu “Gasco” Ablordui, Yawuza Alhassan, Apetsi Amenumey, and Reginald Sackey; and members of the African Heritage Ensemble, Yesu Gogu Dance Ensemble, and Wuza Wuza Dance. Thanks to Nii Markwei and Yawuza Alhassan for the connections to artists at the Jamestown Boutique, and the Tamale Youth Home Culture Group (YHCG). 


Thanks to Dean Wehr, Colleen Woods and the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University for their generous support of this album. Thanks to Gerald Boodoo and the Center for African Studies for a 2014 Loogman Faculty Research Grant to conduct the fieldwork in Ghana that forms the basis of both Songs of Lake Volta and Dances of Lake Volta.


Finally, thanks to my fabulous wife and wonderful parents for their support and love.


-Joe Sheehan



1. Dusime (Ewe)


Mano efe Dusime

Matso miabu da do efe kome Dusime

Egbe la lanye la me liwo

Ne me kula lanye lawo sugbo


A man sits on the right of the lady

He puts his left hand around her shoulder

Today I don’t have any lovers

When I die my loved ones are many

2. Aklie (Ewe)


Aklie do gokame

Tuo di anago

Dahome klasu woe do gokame

Mieyina Dahume Xolu wo Kpoge

Aklie do gokame

Fogbonuviwo ne wu agbo mia yie

Aklie dza lelele

Mieyina Dahome Xoluwo kpoge




Akli is in serious trouble

Guns are firing in Yorubaland

Warriors of Dahome are in trouble

We are going to see the powers of Dahume

Akli is in real trouble

People of Afogbonu, open the gates for us!

It is a battle of reality

We are going to see the warriors of Dahume.

(Gbadagli) [town near the border between Nigeria and Benin where the Ewes fought Doe Akli]

3. Komfo Anokye (Twi)


Komfo Anokye eg buey

 Miya maba

Komfo Anokye [a famous Asante chief-priest] is dead.

I’m going to come.

4. Akoo Kofi (Ga)


Akoo kofi 

boni olε wć faŋŋ

ni okεε obε noko

loflćn bibioo mini maye mć

be no wo ma wo inseŋ kpaŋ mo

shi sa ne nba


Kofi parrot, you that feeds us all

But you said you have nothing

Little bird like me, what will I eat

Because of that I will hang myself

But there is something coming

5. Damba Suite (Dagbani)


Bingalima yaye galima ye

Nantong dagban bia


Tinim bila 

yibilan bantiyoδ

Attention! Be warned of intruders

Nantong [child’s name] child


We are those people. 

Don’t you recognize us all?

6. Another Day


Oga my shoe, oga my socks, oga my money,

Another day, another day

Oga my bills, oga my car, oga my house 

Another day, another day.

Another day, another day 

I go do you fine, another day

Another day, another day.

Tomorrow go be your lucky day

I go pay your loan

I go buy you house 

Una no for worry

Another day, another day

I go feed you pikin

I dey wedge my money,

Una no for worry worry

Another day, another day

Another day, another day 

I go do you fine, another day

Another day, another day.

Tomorrow go be your lucky day

But tomorrow never come

Ya ya, oh ya ya

7. Oye (Dagbani)


Oeye Oeye Oeye ya yee


Namong bizing bia ning bin ning waribini

Sanpaha bizing bia ning bin ning waribini

Dalimbihi bangibia yuriye ye

[Cry for help!]

[…Praising different families of musicians…]

Namong [surname] bizing [family name] bin ning waribini [society of dancers] 

Dalimbihi [village] bangibia [drummers]

8. Nyento (Ewe)


Nyento fe jeje vielo                 


Mekae fui nama


Nega gble ha nyee dzi


Nega nyo tia nye dzi


Mega favile zamena mo

Nudela hogbe la si won a mo

Jeje vin ye lo


This is my lovely son


Who will beat my son for me


When it’s good it’s my child


When it’s bad it’s my child


Don’t cry in the night

Something will take your voice

This is my baby

9. Kekele [instrumental] 

10. Dama Dama (Ewe)


Dama dama dama ee

Obla yo ni ya 

kweni sa le jogbaa aa

[Calling a lady] Dama

This lady going, the necklace is beautiful on her

11. Subo (Ewe)


Subo subo subo 

Mele ya wom be nava subo

Ne tsi le dza dzam

Ne kuledidim

Ne dole wuwom ha

Kpada mele yawom be nava subo



I’m calling you to come and worship

When it’s raining

When it’s the dry season

If you are hungry

I’m calling you to come worship


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