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Botri Dela

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Dela Botri, known as the founder and leader of Hewale Sounds is an internationally acclaimed musician. Father of the ‘Gouda’ music group and grandfather to many musicians who come to him for career advice, a word of encouragement, and collaboration. Botri is actually more than a traditional music artist.

He is an exceptionally talented and versatile musician, the finest artist who plays all the chromatic scales on the Atenteben. This Ghanaian traditional musical instrument is a flute made out of bamboo. Botri is the mastermind of the development of the capabilities of the atenteben to fit all music genres due to his capabilities of reading and writing music.

Botri composes and arranges all his music, while improvising, creating, improving, and extending traditional rhythms, beats, and sounds. His music stands on the interface of tradition and modernity. He waxes into the contemporary while keeping a link to his roots.

Leader and Artistic Director Dela Botri started his career at the age of 10. A percussionist at first and later on he mastered the skills of the atenteben (Ghanaian traditional bamboo flute). After having performed with the Nyame Mei Cultural Troup of Cape Coast from the early age of 15, he then joined the Pan African Orchestra in 1990 where he mastered and refined his skills as well as a percussionist and atenteben player. In 1996 he decided to start his own musical group. Hewale Sounds was born.

Between 1996 and 2004 Botri was asked to lecture and teach the skills of his unique method of playing the Atenteben at the University of Ghana’s International Centre for African Music and Dance by Emeritus Professor Kwabena Nketia who is the founder and by then the Director of the Centre who was financed by the Ford International Foundation.

On his request, the Centre employed the full Hewale Sounds who by then counted 16 members and became Resident Band of the University of Ghana under the direction of Prof. Nketia.

Botri has held numerous workshops and undertaken different activities throughout his thirty-two years of experience.

A high light of his activities are: instructor of atenteben at the University of Colorado (USA) in 2004; The Basel University of Arts in Zurich, Switzerland hosted Botri in 2005 where he gave master classes; from 2006 to early 2008 Botri researched on African rhythms across the continent, preparing for his new album; In 2008 to serve as a resource person at the World Music Village in Vakeela, Finland; also in 2008 he represented Ghana at the Cuba Disco Music Festival in the capital of Havana, Cuba; Both in 2009 and 2010 he was an ‘Artist in Residence’ at the Royal Dutch Conservatory in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Botri realized a special project with the Royal Hague Conservatory’s Percussion Ensemble ‘Anumadutchi’ to whom he taught Ghanaian traditional rhythms and which ended in a spectacular performance at the prestigious Lucent Theater in The Hague alongside the group’s director, musicologist Mr. Wim Vos, one of the Netherlands’ most prestigious music directors; In 2010 he participated in the International Visitors Leadership Program on the invitation of the US Government as a Resident International Artist.

During this program he exchanged valuable information on music and the arts in general in the cities of Washington, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles with US-based institutions and other international leaders of the arts industry.

A special moment was a performance alongside blues living legend William Bell at the Stax Music Academy in Memphis; Again in December 2010 he gave masterclasses on African rhythms and playing the atenteben, African drumming, and playing the ‘asratoa’ to music teachers in his ‘training the trainers' workshop’ at the Sibelius Academy in Finland.

With different musicians around the world, Botri has held numerous performances, jams, and workshops and also taught undergraduate students. His recent activities among others are: In December 2011 Dela Botri performed at the prestigious NOBEL World Peace Prize Award Ceremony and Concert, accompanying Liberian-born singer, Miatta Fahnbulleh, at her performance in honor and on request of the Liberian President, H.E. Mrs. Ellen Sirleaf Johnson who was one of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in Oslo, Norway; 2012 opened Botri performing with different African top-artistes.

During February and March he was an Artist in Residence in Mali and after he did a musical exchange, with Balafon (Malian Xylophone) Maestro Keletuigui Diabate and Ngoni dynamo Barou Kouyate, on Ghanaian high life and Mandingue music.

On the 8th March, International Women’s Day, Botri accompanied rising star Sia Tolno (RFI 2011 winner) from Guinea Conakry at her concert in Accra; Also in March, he collaborated with Erwann Bouvier (Burkina Faso-based musician from France) and his band Paris Manguer at their concert in Accra at the opening ceremony of the ‘Quinzaine de la Francophonie' organized by and at Alliance Française Accra.

Throughout his thirty-three years of professional experience, Botri has performed and collaborated with several national and international musicians and groups. These include amongst many others: the late Mac Tonto from Osibisa (GH), Amandzeba Nat Brew (GH), Gyedu Blay Ambolley(GH), Ebo Taylor (GH), Bibi Brew (GH/FR), Rocky Dawuni (GH), UB40 (UK), Peter Erskine(USA), Lucas Lagarthy (USA), Dudu Ndiaye Rose (SEN), Ismailo (SEN), Wim Vos (NL), Miro Mantere (FIN), Papa Jukka Siokonen (FIN), Mamar Kassey (NIGER), Alain Soler (FR), Andre Jaume (FR), J.J. Milton (FR), Habib Koite (MALI), Keletuigui Diabate (MALI), Barou Kouyate (MALI), Levi Silvanie (NL/CUR), Son CC (CUR/CUBA), and others.

In 1999 Botri has been referred to as ‘the Flute Magician’ by a Norwegian music critic, which is now the inspiration behind Botri’s logo.

A singer, master percussionist, master flutist, performer, songwriter, composer, producer, music instructor, and owner of his own recording studio: ‘Atenteben Studios Ghana’.

Dela Botri has already traveled to over 50 countries around the world to perform and teach his natural talent and demonstrate his capabilities. He has also made performance tours to Cote d’Ivoire, Algeria, and Libya accompanying Ghanaian local rhythms proponent Amandzeba Nat Brew and his band.

Leading and directing Hewale Sounds, the group has also performed for highly enthusiastic audiences in Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Guinea, Mauritania, Jordan, Egypt, South Africa, Norway, and the United States.

In Ghana, the group has enchanted audiences from all regions during their national tour and also at cultural institutions such as the Alliance Française, Goethe Institute, the British Council, and residencies of ambassadors to Ghana from Congo, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Togo, and the United States.

In February 2012, Botri and Hewale Sounds, in a fusion with other musicians, National dancers, and renowned national fashion designers represented Ghana during the Ghana-Dubai Business Forum in Dubai directed by Dela Botri.

Also in July 2012, Hewale Sounds, in a fusion with other musicians and a theater production represented Ghana at the World Expo in YEOSU, South Korea, directed by Dela Botri.

Hewale Sounds is currently independently based at the W.E.B. Dubois Centre of Accra. The band has performed alongside international artistes and ethnomusicologists such as the one and only Stevie Wonder (USA), the sensational Toby Keith (USA), Sharon Katz from The Peace Train (SA), the greatest Ghanaian Palmwine guitarist Egya Koo Nimo, Nana Danso Abiam (GH), Rocky Dawuni (GH/USA), Amandzeba Nat Brew (GH), Prof. John Collins (UK/GH), Dr. Willie Anku (GH), Prof. Kwabena Nketia (GH), Dr. Kwasi Ampene (GH) and Gyedu Blay Ambolley (GH/USA), Elivava – The African Gold (GH) and others.

Their latest album ‘AMEWUGA’, launched in May 2010, is a blend of African rhythms and could be categorized in the World Music genre. Amewuga means: ‘human relations are more important than material things.

The versatile style of music Dela Botri composes and produces is unique. Genres are from traditional African music to folk, jazz, Caribbean, contemporary, and world music rhythms. His music style is not competing or to be compared to others, as a reference though, the comparison has been made to music from Habib Koite, Salif Keita, and Youssouf Ndour.