Thomas McKenna

Thomas McKenna 

Experiencing life in N.Y., I grew to appreciate & love the cultural practices and familial gatherings of my youth. The genesis of this would be in the building where my extended family would all join to celebrate occasions of life--always loud with talk, singing, and dancing with full vigor! One of my cousins had a set of bongos, which he allowed me to play freely, and this initiated my love of rhythm and the drum! 

I would meet my professor, the late Master Djembefola Mamady Keita from Guinea, West Africa. He was holding an artist in residence in Santa Fe, N.M. I felt the power & presence of song he brought forth from his Djembe, full of passion & life. I did everything I could to stay for the duration of Mamady's residence. He then invited me to live in Brussels, to be a student of Tam-Tam Mandingue, his school of Guinean music, dance & cultural practices, where I would complete numerous months of courses. 

I returned to the U.S. to prepare to travel to and continue my studies with Mamady in Guinea. While living at Mamady's, I was introduced to & met numerous other artists who would drop by to visit him. I would later become a student and/or performing/touring partner with a number of them here in the states:  Fara Tolno, Fode Bangoura, and M'Bemba Bangoura to name a few.
They are all Master Djembefola’s and have been lead soloists & artistic directors with some of Guinea's top dance troupes. 

Upon returning home to Colorado, I continued my studies with Mamady. I also took on intensive studies and training with Fara & Fode, when they later moved to Colorado, drumming for dance classes at our local studio, and touring the southwestern states for performances and workshops. 

Presently, I continue my studies, instruct & drum for dance classes locally, and perform with local dance troupes and various music ensembles.