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In 1998, Thione moved to Seattle to teach and perform; a year later he formed Yeke Yeke, a percussion ensemble that has performed the traditional rhythms of West Africa to delighted audiences for the last ten years.
Thione is also responsible for some incredible regional events, such as the annual Spirit of West Africa Festival and Kasumai Africa, offering the Pacific Northwest audiences a chance to enjoy immersive experiences in African music, dance, and culture.
Thione has shared the stage with such noteworthy musicians as Poncho Sanchez, Alpha Blondy, Prince Diabate and Max Romeo. Thione Diop and his group Yeke Yeke are well known from their many regional appearances in the U.S. and Canadian Northwest. In Senegal, Thione has collaborated with renowned griot artists Babou Laye Cissokho; master Kora player, Thierno Kouyate; Orchestra Baobab saxophonist, Thierno Ba; Xalam master, Samba Ndoc Tama player for Cheikh Lo and singer Abdoulaye N’Diaye on a number of tracks.
A track from one of his most recent collaborations, Samba Griot, co-produced by Thione and Lynette Wich, is featured in the film The Heartbreak Kid. The track “Lamba” from Jammu Aduna is featured in the documentary “End of Poverty” by Philip Diaz. Additionally, various tracks from Kham Saa Thiosanne were used in the Spanish documentary film “Metropoluz” by Eduardo Torres. Thione is co-producing a documentary film, Modern Day Griots with director Malika Weeden.
Dudley has conducted research in Trinidad and Tobago, focusing on the history and music of steelbands. More recent research projects include the music of El Gran Combo, and salsa music in Puerto Rico generally, as well as Latino contributions to American popular music. His theoretical interests include nationalism, transculturation, and participatory music practices.
His publications include Carnival Music in Trinidad (Oxford University Press, 2004), as well as Music From Behind the Bridge (Oxford University Press, 2008), a history of Trinidad steelband music, and numerous other articles on Caribbean music, including and "Judging by the Beat: Calypso vs. Soca," Ethnomusicology (1996), and “El Gran Combo, Cortijo, and the Musical Geography of Cangrejos/Santurce, Puerto Rico,” Journal of Caribbean Studies (2008).
Dudley is one of the curators (along with his wife, Marisol Berríos-Miranda, and Michelle Habell-Pallan) for American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music, a bilingual museum exhibit that opened at the Experience Music Project in Seattle in 2008. American Sabor was exhibited in museums in several U.S. cities, culminating in a 3-month run at the International Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in summer 2011. He is also guest curator for a smaller version of the exhibit prepared by the Smithsonian Institution Travelling Exhibit Service (SITES), and for their website (http://www.americansabor.org), and is currently working on a book manuscript.
In Seattle Dudley performs on steel pan with several local bands, and participates in the Seattle Fandango Project (SFP), a community music group that practices son jarocho. He has helped to bring visiting artists from Mexico to the University of Washington (including Son de Madera and Laura Rebolloso) and to promote active collaboration between community arts activists and university individuals and programs.
Marisol teaches in layers, one rhythm at a time. She recently completed a residency at Alki Elementary School, teaching Latin rhythms to 120 fourth and fifth graders, which culminated in a concert. "They were the best!" she says, "curious, engaged, respectful. 30 years ago, when I came to the United States and was teaching people the Clave, it was almost impossible for them to get it: the side-to-side movements that accompany the rhythm can be difficult. But these kids nowadays hear more Latin and African rhythms at a younger age, they are more exposed to world rhythms." (Clave is the Spanish word for keystone or key. A Clave rhythm is a repeated five-note pattern.)
"The interlocking rhythms and call-response singing of Latin Caribbean music have a special power to generate participation," says Marisol, who used the fellowship to share her knowledge and experience with Eckstein Middle School, taking young jazz musicians to a deeper level of Afro-Caribbean playing. She is also deeply involved with the Seattle Fandango project. "People need to get back to playing music themselves," she says, "all the generations: mamas with babies, teenagers, elders. We are community building through music making. And that's amazing."
As co-curator of the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit American Sabor, Marisol developed, in collaboration with Shannon Dudley and Michelle Habell-Pallán, a classroom curriculum, educator resources, and guided listening programs. The exhibit highlights the contributions of Latinos to popular music in the United States since World War II.
"One of my purposes is to share the joy and happiness of music and dancing," says Marisol. "This is my way to free the creative impulses in our children, so they have such intense joy in the learning and doing." Quoting Nietzsche, she says, "We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once."