Date:Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
Babatunde will confide, “I draw a lot from the African culture and one of the main things I draw is that music is functional: in African life music accompanies everything.
The music can put you in a space to make you learn a lot, to open you up. Once you are opened and energized then you can start building things to make the world a better place.
Music is like oil and water: it does the bidding of who controls it; it has the power to open you up but it doesn’t direct where you’re gonna go once you’re open.”
Babatunde Lea, now living on the eastern coastal area of the United States was born in Danville Virginia. His family moved to the eastern seashore when he was just an infant in Englewood, New Jersey.
He was inspired by his Aunt, who was one of the first women to play drums in a marching band. He began drums himself, drumming with various marching groups and in 1959 he was changed for the rest of his life by a performance he saw.
Babatunde Olatunji performed with his Drums of Passion which was quite an impression on the young drummer. In ninth grade he began playing conga drums and played at a professional level in highschool and did his first recording session for Ed Townsend a producer.
In the 1970’s Babatunde Lea, while in New York City performed with the legendary Leon Thomas, Oscar Brown Jr, Lonnie Liston Smith, Kenny Kirkland, John Purcell, Buddy Williams and Eddie Rivera. Around 1977, he moved to San Francisco and settled into a great playing environment for musicians.
There, he came full circle meeting world class musicians from all over the continent and world. Playing with such stylists as Pharoah Sanders, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison, and a host of others. He got quite the reputation as an impeccaple drum kit player, conga percussionist, teacher and educator.
Since 1993, his wife Dr Virginia Lea and he, have operated the Educultural Foundation. They teach critical thinking about social and cultural issues through the arts.Babatunde Lea has several albums: Umbo Weti – A Tribute To Leon Thomas; Suite Unseen; Soul Pools and Level Of Intent.
He performs on tours, festivals and concert performances world wide. He also works with educational programs throughout the United States. As the San Francisco Bay Guardian says: “A master of trap drums and hand percussion, veteran musician Babatunde Lea plunges deep into the musical richness of African diaspora on Soul Pools”.
Tunde comments on his Soul Pools album: “I’m not a religious man, but I do believe in spirit, that it intervenes in our lives in mysterious ways. So I thought with this record I wanted to pay homage to the spirits. The suite is five melodic vignettes that call on the spirits, culminating in Summoner of the Ghosts.
I get more technically adept as I grow and keep practicing, but the one thing that I’m really sure about my playing is that I can call the ghosts.”