Thanks to our people, our team really is greater than the sum of its parts

Listed alphabetically by first name

Amo Soumah

Aboubacar “Amo” Soumah was born and raised in Conakry, Guinea, West Africa. He first discovered his love for his culture’s traditional music at the age of eight. Amo quickly rose through the musical ranks of his home country, claiming prominent roles as both a musician and musical director. Since then, he has toured and performed in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.

Amo is currently on the faculty at the University of Florida’s School of Theatre and Dance, where his expertise is in high demand. He is not only a talented musician but is also a sought-after choreographer and folklorist. Amo’s work exemplifies the preservation of West African traditions and their positive application in modern communities around the world.

Atiba Rorie

Grammy-nominated musician Atiba Rorie has been playing percussion instruments since he was a young child. He has performed at TEDx and two United States Presidential Inauguration Celebrations. Atiba has also studied with percussion greats such as Babatunde Olatunji, Fahali Igbo, Bradley Simmons, Chief Bey, and The National Dance Ensemble of Ghana in a one-month intensive in Accra, Ghana, and a one-month intensive study in Guinea, West Africa.

Atiba has been a guest artist at Duke University, High Point University, Agnes Scott College, Williams College, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, Black College Dance Exchange, North Carolina School of the Arts, CaldCluegh Community Center, and Radford University. He is the founder of the dynamic band Africa Unplugged and has taught at Winston-Salem State University and Guilford College. He holds a B.A. in Music from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he serves as the Dance Music Coordinator.

Bashir Shakur

Featured in the hit TV series “Harlem,” Bashir Shakur is a percussionist, composer, performer, educator, and recording artist. His unique blend of improvisational and traditional percussion can be found in many TV and film scores, including those produced for the well-known sports network ESPN and reggae superstar Freddie McGregor.

Bashir has been an artist-in-residence or faculty member at many institutions, including New York University, Florida State University, The Brooklyn Music School, Florida A&M University, American Dance Festival, Williams College, and Elon University. He has recorded, performed, and/or toured with an array of diverse artists, including Chuck Davis, Camille Yarborough (foremother of Rap), DJ Grandmaster Flash, Waley Reyes Jr. (drummer for Santana), The Sunday Special Band, The North Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra, and Bessie award winner Jawole Jo Zollar.

Bill Scheidt
Managing Partner and Lead Facilitator

Before becoming the Managing Partner of Sewa Beats, Bill spent a total of one year and a half living, working, and studying music in Africa. One of his first trips to Africa was as the leader of an ecology research project he designed to study a population of giraffe in a national park. It was then that he first fell in love with Africa, its music, and its people.

Regularly returning to study music, Bill learned Swahili, volunteered to teach English in a rural school, and worked on local community outreach initiatives. He later went on to become an instructor at the world’s first international academy of West African drumming, and a close personal student of legendary Master Drummer Mamady Keita. For him, Sewa Beats is a way of paying forward the many gifts that have come out of his time in Africa and are an expression of his commitment to making a difference in the world.

With the help of Bill’s directorship, Sewa Beats has delivered corporate programs in 19 countries, 7 languages, and reached more than 300,000 participants around the world. Sewa Beats’ clients include organizations such as BMW, Pfizer, Wells Fargo, Hewlett Packard, and Capital One. 

Bolokada Conde

Appearing in the IMAX movie PULSE: A Stomp Odyssey, Bolokada Conde started out as a young musical prodigy. Born and raised in the remote village of Morowaya, Guinea, West Africa, he became a sensation in his country as the lead drummer for one of Guinea’s premiere national ensembles. Bolokada has since traveled and performed in major performance venues all over the world, sharing his passion for traditional music with audiences on every continent.

As one of the world’s foremost djembe players, Bolokada shares his successes and joy for life by returning to Guinea every year to work on community outreach initiatives. His tireless efforts include projects in the areas of health care, education, clean energy, and sustainable infrastructure. When not traveling, Bolokada resides in Greenville, SC, where he uses his free time to build beautiful traditional instruments.

Cassandra Wiley
Sales, Logistics and Administration

Combining her excellent people skills with an incredible eye for detail, Cassandra works with clients to make sure they have a fulfilling and seamless experience with Sewa Beats, from start to finish. When wearing her sales hat, her thoughtful and approachable style is an asset in helping clients craft a program that is the perfect fit for them.

As the team’s logistics expert, Cassandra has an unwavering ability to get people and drums to any corner of the planet, on time every time. Whether working directly with clients or behind the scenes, in many ways Cassandra is the rock star who makes the whole show happen.

Fodé Lavia Camara

Fodé Lavia Camara was born into an artistic family in Guinea, West Africa. His musical talent was discovered at the age of five, when he began his formal percussion training. He was called a prodigy by his teachers and attained featured-artist status in a myriad of international ensembles.

Fodé has since been on the faculty at Georgetown University, Howard University, University of Florida, University of South Carolina, American University, and University of Maryland. In high demand, he tours extensively in Africa, Europe, North America, South America, China, and Australia as a musician, choreographer, and guest artist.

Forrest Matthews
Lead Facilitator

Forrest Matthews began studying West African music at the age of 11. After many years of training, Forrest traveled to Guinea, West Africa, for the first time in 2015, where he performed in and helped to organize the first annual Kaloum Djembe Festival in the capital city of Conakry.

Since then, Forrest has traveled to Guinea annually, living and training with the musicians of Ballet Gbassikolo du Kaloum. In addition to training extensively with his primary teacher, Fode Lavia Camara, he has studied with Namory Keita in his home village of Sangbarala as well as with Famoudou Konate, Solo Keita, Bolokada Conde, Aly Camara, Mohamed DaCosta Seny Daffe, Abdoulaye “Felu” Kouyate, Mohamed Dioubate, and Mamady Keita and Bill Scheidt of the TTM Djembe Academy.

Glenn Gautier
Executive Producer
As Sewa Beats’ Executive Producer, Glenn works with clients to create experiences that drive business results. His style fosters collaboration and creates a “can-do” culture. He typically works with C-suite on strategic agenda design for global summits, product/business launches, sales, leadership and training events for multi-national corporations and associations. In addition to 30 years crafting experiential programs, Glenn produces media and directs audio visual equipment to deliver immersive experiences.

Greg Ince
Greg Ince comes from a family of talented percussionists, having been raised in Brooklyn, New York, by his Cuban father and Panamanian mother. With more than 50 years of experience as a percussionist, Greg has performed both at home and abroad with great artists and ensembles such as Alvin Ailey, Arthur Mitchell and the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Marie Brooks’ Caribbean Dance Theatre, and the Chuck Davis African American Dance Ensemble.

As a percussionist and educator, Greg is passionate about sharing traditional music with others. In addition to his work with Sewa Beats, Greg has a gift for working with youth and has more than three decades of experience conducting educational outreach programs in underserved schools throughout the United States.

Hamisi Lee
Lead Facilitator

Through his work with Sewa Beats, Hamisi blends his decades of experience working for a Fortune 500 company with his lifelong passion for culture and history. Having enjoyed a successful career as a corporate professional, and with his rich knowledge of African music, Hamisi brings a perspective and depth to his facilitation that immediately resonates with audiences.

Hamisi’s early life was highlighted by a trip to Africa in 1965. This historical and cultural study helped fuel his love for the music of Africa and led to a long list of performing credits. He then went on to become a corporate Engineering Designer, where he saw first-hand that the skills needed for success in the business world mirror those needed for success in the musical world. His desire to learn more about Africa and its music led him to study under many of the great musicians and cultural curators of Africa and the Americas. These include Grand Master Drummer Mamady Keita, Babatunde Olatunji, Bill Summers, Sundiata Keita, and Baba Ishangi.

Despite his wealth of knowledge regarding African drumming, culture, history, and lifestyle, Hamisi remains a lifelong learner. He continues his study of African music, continually uncovering new ways to translate its metaphorical insights to corporate groups. The culmination of his Fortune 500 experience and his love for Africa shines through Hamisi’s work in a way that uplifts and inspires all those around him.

Michael Taylor
Lead Facilitator
Michael Taylor (aka “Taylor”) came to Sewa Beats with years of experience in the corporate world, having worked as both an IT trainer and independent IT consultant. He has since facilitated programs for Sewa Beats throughout North America, South America, Europe, and Oceania. With his extensive corporate and musical background, he delivers impactful programs that are relevant and substantive, as well as energetic and engaging.

Concurrent with his time in the IT world, Taylor started his drumming path by studying music at the world’s first international academy of West African Drumming, with Grand Master Drummer Mamady Keita. In 2000, he left his IT career to focus solely on drumming as a passion and career.  After traveling to Africa a number of times, he achieved the degree of TTM Djembe Academy Senior Instructor. Since then he has performed, taught, or facilitated drumming programs on every continent except Antarctica.

Whether it is as a facilitator, educator, author, or performer, Taylor brings a unique perspective to his craft. With the combination of a unique ability to communicate, engage audiences and promote learning, combined with a broad range of life and professional experience, he focuses on the relationship between the individual and the metaphor of music. This has led to an overall philosophy that seeks to find where one’s own personal pulse lies in relation to the collective pulse. By way of traditional West African or non-traditional styles, Taylor demonstrates the metaphor of music in everything he does.

Monette Marino
An inductee into the Music Hall of Fame, San Diego, Monette began drumming at the age of eight. It didn’t take long until she was winning international percussion competitions, and she then went on to study traditional drumming in Africa, Cuba, Brazil, and Korea. Since then, Monette has toured and performed in over 20 countries and on six continents.

Monette was an apprentice of legendary Master Djembe Drummer Mamady Keita and received a certificate from the world’s first international academy of West African percussion. She later opened a branch of the school in California. As a band leader and solo artist, Monette has released several albums that include Grammy Award-winning musicians, producers, and arrangers.

Will Ridenour
Will Ridenour is a professional musician and instrument craftsman who specializes in international folkloric musical genres. Will has performed in 41 US states and 28 countries worldwide and has collaborated on 17 albums and over 20 theater, dance, and film productions. Since 1997, Will has studied with master African kora and percussion teachers in Mali, Senegal, Sweden, and the US, including 4 study trips to West Africa.

Will has been the recipient of four NC Arts Council grants and holds a B.A. in Anthropology from UNC-Chapel Hill. He currently performs and records with Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba, Grand Shores, Paperhand Puppet Intervention, and other collaborative projects. Will also has a passion for sharing traditional music with young people and has served as an artist-in-residence at schools across the United States.

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