SNL Performer To Be Featured In TAMIU Percussion Ensemble Recital

SNL Performer To Be Featured In TAMIU Percussion Ensemble Recital

Texas A&M International University is hosting a free and open to the public rhythm concert on Wednesday, April 19 with guest artist Valerie Naranjo.

The concert will take place from 18:30 to 19:30 in the Concert Hall of the Fine and Performing Arts Center of TAMIU. The TAMIU Percussion Band is a small group, usually composed of 12-14 percussionists, and offers a variety of music in concert to challenge the students.

Best known on Broadway for his involvement in the West African keyboard, The Lion King is rightfully among Naranho's highlights. He also plays drums on Saturday Night Live and has recorded and performed with Tori Amos, David Byrne, Airto Moreira, The Paul Winter Consort, The Philp Glass Ensemble and others.

In an interview with TAMIU, Naranjo said he discovered the marimba in northern Mexico when he was six years old, but didn't fall in love with the instrument until college.

"As I got older and listened to bands like Parliament Funkadelic and Earth, Wind & Fire, I loved that music and the sound of the marimba as well," he said. "I was lucky during my freshman year of college when I met a graduate student at the University of Colorado who came up to Western marimba and played this amazing thing that I've never heard from another marimba player in my life."

This instrumentalist introduced him to an instrument called the Ghana Gil and he made several intercontinental trips to develop his skills on the instrument.

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"I realized I had to go to the country at some point, hence the first of 25 trips to Ghana in 1988," Naranha said. “I used to listen to records, especially the records of master musician Kakraba Lubi who was a gili performer in the Ghana National Dance Company.

When I first heard it I thought Parliament Funkadelic, Earth, Wind & Fire, James Brown, they knew this instrument before, because their music comes from the harmonic and rhythmic content that comes from that instrument. "

Originally from southern Colorado, Naranjo said he sees many similarities between his community and Laredo.

"Southern Colorado isn't very close to Laredo, Texas, but culturally it's very close," he said. "I really have to say that when I see many of you teachers and students it's like I'm looking at myself in the mirror. Every time you look in the mirror at a family gathering or a gathering of people who grew up like you, it's comforting, sometimes confusing, but always a great learning experience.

As a Colorado high-flyer, Naranha encourages TAMIU students to follow their dreams, even if they are not yet at the epicenter of the music scene.

"There are a lot of exceptional students here," he said. "I really hope they can say that by not being in Indianapolis or San Francisco or New York, I think they would do great things. Through good manners, respect for others and how we can be useful. For them, the sky is the limit.

jmack@lmtonline.com

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