Jeannine, you must embrace Joy. You must go to Africa.
- St. Hildegard of Bingen
I never would have dreamed that St. Hildegard would guide me to Africa to explore Joy. I will never forget the day this journey began.
One Saturday morning, I was at the Farmer’s Market in Boulder. I felt like a Mack truck had hit me. The grief my body was holding was so heavy I could barely breathe. And then I heard it: “da-da dink-dink dink-dink dink-dink da-dink-dink.” Music notes like little drops of joy were floating through the rays of Colorado sunshine, gently entering me, and I could feel myself begin to breathe more comfortably.
The sadness I had felt for years was lifting. Like a child following the Pied Piper of Hamlin, I followed the music until I found the marimba band Kutandara. I wanted to stay there forever just soaking in the Joy of the “inanimate objects that sing” (=marimba!).
Years later I am in the midst of a journey to deeply experience and share the Joy Collaborative. I asked David Sharp and Gary Grundei, two powerfully creative musicians, to explore the music of Africa with me. We met weekly for two years experiencing the music of a different African country each week. We fell deeply in love with the drums, the kora, as well as the voices, smiles, and beauty of the African musicians. David and I are play the marimba at the Kutandara Center.
We sang African songs with Nii Armah Sowah, a Ghanaian-born arts educator (1000-voices.com): “Boba, he-he-he boba!” In May 2012, David and I took Nii Armah’s African Dance class at CU. There we were every day for three hours all month in traditional Ghanaian dress keeping up with the twenty-year-old college students as Nii Armah made African dance accessible to us-–emotionally, physically, and spiritually.