Okaidja & Shokoto

Okaidja & Shokoto

Performing in the 2013 Green Show Saturday, July 6 and Sunday, July 7.

This is their third season in the OSF Green Show.

Innovative music, drawing on West African and African Diaspora music.

Okaidja was born in 1975 into a family of singers and songwriters in Ghana. His crippled uncle was the town’s notorious composer who spared no one with the songs he wrote about life in the township of Kokrobitey, a small fishing village on the west coast of Ghana. Okaidja’s mother, Atsiawa Kodjo, was a colorful lead singer in the spiritual church she attended. Auntie Atsiawa’s powerful songs of praise gained her a warm reputation in the community and earned her the name “the spiritual singer.” As a young boy Okaidja sang in churches and while he worked as a canoe boy on fishing boats on the weekends. Out on the fishing boats, the fishermen would sing a cappella songs as they worked, and Okaidja passed the long days learning the songs of the great Naaye (sea). By the age of 19, Okaidja was accepted as a professional musician and dancer for the prestigious Ghana Dance Ensemble at the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies. He became well known for his energetic stage presence and excelled in his performances of the Ga fetish songs and dances. The Ghana Dance Ensemble gave Okaidja the opportunity to study with the best teachers in the country such as the late Emeritus Professor A.M. Opoku. Upon his return from the 1997 U.S tour with the Ensemble, Okaidja was invited to teach Ghanaian drumming and dance workshops in Germany. He traveled throughout Germany teaching Ghanaian music and dance. He came back to the Ghana Dance Ensemble in 1998, but not for long. Word about Okaidja’s talent and bright spirit was spreading through the music world.
Mashud Neindow was born in Tamale Ghana into a Dagbamba family of divine drummers. He started learning to play the talking drum (Lunga) at the age of six. Mashud spent 13 years working with the prestigious Ghana Dance Ensemble as one of the group's lead drummers. He was the crowd’s favorite during many of the tours to Europe and North America. He has taught and performed Ghanaian drumming extensively both in Ghana and abroad. In 2003 Mashud moved to Portland, OR to work with Obo Addy, a renowned Ghanaian drummer. After four years of performing and touring with Obo, he joined the Shókoto Music & Dance Project. With Shókoto Mashud plays a vital role as contributor to the group’s repertoire. Mashud brings the rich flavor of Northern Ghana to Shokoto’s music.

Chaz Mortimer is a Portland-based musician, educator, and instrument-builder. He began playing and studying drums at age 8 and at age 12, he dove head first into the world of jazz and Afro-Cuban music. Throughout high school, Chaz earned awards at jazz festivals, earned scholarships to summer music programs, and during his senior year, he was selected to play in the Yamaha National All-Star Jazz Band. In college, Chaz studied jazz drumming at the Oberlin Conservatory with Billy Hart and performed all over the Midwest and Deep South with Adenike Sharpley’s Dance Diaspora African Music and Dance Troupe (part of Oberlin's world renowned Africa American Studies Department). With Dance Diaspora, Chaz completed two residencies collaborating and studying with Grupo Afrocuba de Matanzas in Matanzas, Cuba. He completed his BA in music at Naropa University in Boulder and moved to Portland in 2007.

Okaidja & Shokoto on Community: Portland/Seattle