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Check out Keith Johnson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Keith Johnson.

Keith, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I grew up in Washington DC area where I was exposed to cultures from around the world. I saw my first African drummers performance. I said I want to do that play African drums. This started my journey to learn about drums. The research brought me to the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts where I met Yacub Addy from Ghana. I began to learn traditional drumming hand & stick techniques. I had a chance to go to Accra Ghana to study with master drummers. Then traveling to Mali, Senegal to continue my studies. Adams Morgan area of Washington DC I was exposed to the Latin community I saw bongos & congas being played on the streets. Having an opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico & Cuba to learn more about Afro-Cuban rhythms. Seeing Caribbean steel drums being played on the street. I found another musical instrument to learn that sounds like a piano. So I went to Trinidad & Tobago to learn and watch them being made from old oil barrels in Trinidad. When I moved to Arizona, I met the man who helped invent the Caribbean steel drums he was from the island of Trinidad. After this experience, I begin to start utilizing recycle materials to create in communities musical instruments. I started as an Arizona Teaching Artist in 1983 with the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Phoenix Office of Arts & Culture, Arizona Wolf Trap Program working in Arizona public& private schools. Sharing cultural arts from Africa, Latin America, Trinidad & Tobago, Brazil, Tropical Rainforest. I am a Molly Blank Fund Teaching Artist Program thru ASU Gammage. I just finished their program Kennedy Center’s Artist as Educators.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
My art is to create a Global Musical Village with musical instruments from around the world creating a positive experience in communities with recycled materials. My mission is P-M-A” Positive Mental Attitude” to see the positive things in life…the glass is half full keeping an open mind. Live life to the fullest… Love life to the fullest.

Music has a way of creating good vibrations and great memories for everyone involved. I wish everyone to have a special song that touches their heart a favorite song. Changing lives one note at a time… changing my life one student at a time. Music promotes teamwork… come together to work together through melody, harmony & rhythm.

The sterotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?
The biggest challenge is finding sponsors who understand your art. I work with various organizations who have community social services, Library Community Centers, Non-Profits 501c3 can help fund some of your programs.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
SANKOFA is the name of my performing group West African drum & dance with stilt walker.

We will be performing at Gilbert Global Festival on April 6th, 2019 & Variety of festivals in Arizona.

I have some of my work at West Valley Gallery Museum in Surprise Arizona.

My Website: my calendar

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Anthony Alfred

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  1. Garry Doyle

    May 5, 2019 at 3:57 am

    I’m so proud of my cousin and am privileged that he shared his gift with me . Growing up he included me in his summer time journey going to cultural festivals and visiting various parks in our nations capital with drums and percussion instruments in tow where we would play with a host of musicians. I’m a visual artist and his influence has opened my inner creativity to blossom into the artist I am today thank you cuz and much blessings

  2. Deanie

    May 6, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    Keith is a treasure!! A remarkable man!

  3. Dancing Queen :)

    May 8, 2019 at 1:34 am

    Congratulations! I an so happy to see you tell your story and I love working with you. You continue to be blessed.

  4. Jumoke’

    May 27, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    Keith is an ambassador of African rhythms & artistry! He, not only shares his incredible talents, he has also taken the mantle of educator & mentor. He continues to elevate his craft while inspiring so many of us around him, through encouraging growth & evolution. Salute to you and your continued success.

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