SK Kakraba

SK Kakraba was born in Saru, a small farming community in the northern region of Ghana, an area known for its many great gyil (Ghanaian xylophone) players. He undertook traditional training in gyil from a young age. Most of his family are also gyil players, his uncle, Kakraba Lobi, being one of the first gyil players to tour, lecture and record internationally. Over time, SK learned a large repertoire and became a working master of the instrument. At the age of 20, Lobi brought SK to Accra to work as a performer and instructor at the International Center for African Music at the University of Ghana. As SK puts it, “When I moved to Accra in 1997, I had to make money for myself so I strapped on my gyil and carried it around..
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SK Kakraba was born in Saru, a small farming community in the northern region of Ghana, an
area known for its many great gyil (Ghanaian xylophone) players. He undertook traditional
training in gyil from a young age. Most of his family are also gyil players, his uncle, Kakraba
Lobi, being one of the first gyil players to tour, lecture and record internationally. Over time, SK
learned a large repertoire and became a working master of the instrument.
At the age of 20, Lobi brought SK to Accra to work as a performer and instructor at the
International Center for African Music at the University of Ghana. As SK puts it, “When I moved
to Accra in 1997, I had to make money for myself so I strapped on my gyil and carried it around
Central Accra or the zongos (Muslim neighborhoods) and markets and people would throw
money on the instrument. I made a living that way.” In the year 2000-2001, SK began touring
internationally to share his culture, performing in Jordan, Switzerland, and seven African
countries. In 2002, he released his first recording, “Gandayina: Xylophone Music of
Ghana” (Pentatonic Press).
In 2012, SK relocated to Los Angeles and began working with local musicians to create a new
blend of traditional and modern music. He also began performing for children in schools and
giving workshops to American music teachers. He is working on a book with Doug Goodkin of
gyil music adaptable to Orff instruments. In 2015, the Awesome Tapes From Africa label
released “Songs of Paapieye,” their first non-reissue title, and “Yonye" came out on Sun Araw’s
Drag City imprint, Sun Ark Records.
Having completed his first European tour, SK performed at the 2016 World Music Festival in
Chicago. Just recently, he opened for two legendary musicians – Lee “Scratch” Perry and URoy
at the Echoplex in Los Angeles. His 2018 performance schedule has included
collaborations with improvisors Dave Rempis and Tim Daisy at the Suoni Per Il Popolo festival
in Montreal and with the Allah-las on various dates. After a trip home to Ghana to build new
instruments and reconnect with family and friends, Fall of 2018 took SK to Europe as support for
Son Lux.

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