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Our Founder

Menes Yahudah, an artist and Cultural Arts educator, his lifelong career in West African drumming has spanned over 35 years. He is a 1994 graduate of Baltimore City College and received the 2006 Maryland Apprenticeship Grant and became an OSI-Baltimore Community Fellow in 2015, for his project "Muze It Festival".

At the tender age of two, Menes began drumming with his father and Baltimore’s Druid Hill “Park Vibe”.  He later began his professional career as a drummer for the Sankofa African Dance Theater in Baltimore Maryland.  Over the years, he has continued to perform with numerous professional companies and ensembles. In 2006, after devoting 15 years in apprenticeship to Baile McKnight [a Master Drum Craftsman, Drummer, Folklorist, and Educator], Menes received the Maryland Apprenticeship Grant through the Maryland State Arts Council. Menes also spent many years studying under Master Drummer Mamady Keita, Guinea West Africa (and other village drummers during his numerous visits to the continent of Africa).

Menes has written and directed musical experiences including When the Moon Cries, which explores the evolution of African-American relationships on a multi-media scale. 

 

A strong advocate for merging education and the Arts, Menes is the Director of Music and Folklore at The Community of Academic Scholars. He teaches weekly in the Baltimore City School System and offers community drum classes, to nurture and stimulate artistic, personal, and professional development. 

 

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Menes became an OSI-Baltimore Fellow, being awarded for his drum therapy program called "Muze It Festival". The program has operated in partnership with the Y of Central Maryland, public schools, charter schools and private schools. 

 

Menes is the co-director of the annual Baltimore Rhythm Festival. Fellow organizers of the 2014 Baltimore Rhythm Festival said this, “Menes represents the pinnacle of virtuosity as an artist within the Mande djembe tradition.  Menes is attempting to craft a new approach to African traditions amongst the American born, infusing respect for and deep study of African cultures with application of the principles and aesthetics of this culture to his own time and place.” 

 

Menes Yahudah, Djembefola, is noted among professional drummers in the Mid-Atlantic region.  Menes has spent extensive time in African countries such as: Guinea, Senegal, Gambia and the Ivory Coast, for the purpose of both performance and study.  He has also traveled to Asia and the Caribbean for performance.

 

He travels and performs with his Afro-Jazz Band as well as continues to perform with professional companies and ensembles. 

 

Menes has performed or collaborated with the likes of Mamady Keita, Omar Penne, Djimo Kouyate, Baile McKnight, Mahiri Fadjimba Keita, Maria Broom, Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Sweet Honey and The Rock, Famoudou Konate, and Papa Ladji Camari.

Menes Yahudah is a husband and father of two. He is the Founder and CEO of Urban Foli Djembe Orchestra Performing Arts. He is a co-Director of the Baltimore Rhythm Festival.