An Introduction to the Obo Addy Legacy Project Collection

Homowo African Arts and Cultures Promotion Card

The Oregon Multicultural Archives is honored to add another Portland, OR cultural arts organization to its collections. On Friday, June 21st, Natalia Fernández and I travelled to Portland to pick up the Obo Addy Legacy Project Collection.  This collection is made up of various forms of media (some quite challenging!), personal papers, photographs, and records of the Homowo African Arts & Cultures organization. The processing and arrangement of this collection will be my summer term 2013 internship project. This is the OMA’s second
major collection of cultural arts in Portland.
We are starting a trend here!

African Drums

Obo Addy was truly a regional and national treasure. Born Jan. 15, 1936 in Accra, the capital of Ghana, Addy was one of 55 children of Jacob Kpani Addy, a medicine man who integrated rhythmic music into healing and other rituals. Addy was designated by his tribe as a master drummer by the age of six.

The Arts Council of Ghana as a Ga master hired Addy in 1969, and he received his first international exposure at the Munich Summer Olympics in 1972. He then moved to London and spent six years touring internationally until 1978, when he moved to Portland. There he met and married his wife Susan, who began managing his musical career.

Founded by Obo and Susan Addy in 1986, Homowo African Arts & Cultures originally existed as a virtual cultural center with offerings in schools, parks, community centers, and performance venues all over the country. Obo passed away on September 13, 2012 leaving this rich legacy that will be carried on by the Obo Addy Legacy Project.

Example A/V Items

This project will be challenging on many levels.  The preservation of both audio and video media is crucial, the content will be very important to capture in archival formats.  The professional grade tapes will require special transfer processing which will be a fantastic learning experience.  This process is definitely not cheap, so there are also funding issues that can serve as “teaching moments”…oh joy!

The bulk of the collection involves records and promotional materials for the Homowo African Arts and Cultures organization and will require arrangement and description.  Best practices of records management will come into play again, like the Miracle Theater records; there are ancient utility bills that can be purged.

Collection Pick Up and Transfer Photos:

Pick Up at a Portland Storage Unit Transfer to the OMA Ready for Processing!

The Obo Addy Legacy Project Collection will prove to be a fascinating and rewarding project over the next few months. There will be new learning experiences in dealing with the media, and the history of this interesting individual and his African music will be a pleasure to work with. I am honored to have the opportunity to arrange and describe this cultural resource for the OMA.

 ~ Mike Dicianna, Obo Addy Legacy Project Collection Intern

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3 Responses to An Introduction to the Obo Addy Legacy Project Collection

  1. Linda Richards says:

    Obo Addy was my favorite musician ever. His music lifted my heart and was my favorite to dance to when I was fortunate to live where he often played in Eugene, Oregon. I was punk rocker then, but nothing could keep me away from his shows.

    I hope his wonderful and kind wife Susan knows what an impact they both had on Oregonians like me, who came to love Africa through the music and dance they brought to my life. It is a great comfort to me knowing that his memory will be cherished as it should be by the wonderful people and archivists at the Oregon State University Special Collections and Archive Center.

  2. Teressa Raiford says:

    This is amazing news for our donors, fans of Obo and children who will be able to continue to benefit from his gift of music and culture through his mastery of the beat.

  3. Oreatha Littleton-Johnson says:

    This is so awesome to preserve this history so that our children will know who Obo Addy was. Also for others that we don’t forget his legacy and can be part of the process of moving it forward.

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