Music Beyond Borders: Revisit the World with us – West African music shines with Forestdance

Although the coronavirus likely prevents us from presenting Music Beyond Borders this summer, we thought you might enjoy revisiting some of the wonderful moments from past performances.

For  10 years, Music Beyond Borders, a collaboration between Morris Arts and Mayo Performing Arts Center has offered this summer series of free outdoor programs of world music and dance….bringing a taste of cultures from six continents to summer lunchtimes on the Morristown Green.

So, let’s take a trip down memory lane and sample some of the past delights of Music Beyond Borders:

July 23, 2019: Forestdance: Music of Africa

Bringing the music and griot traditions of West Africa to the Morristown Green on July 23, 2019, the Forestdance Trio,  led by Kevin Nathaniel Hylton (on mbira, ( the Zimbabwean finger piano) and the shakere( gourd rattle),  featured  Famoro Dioubate on balaphon or bala (xylophone), and Malang Jobarteh on kora (West African harp).

The video below, used with permission of Kevin Coughlin, Editor of, features Malang Jobarteh’s skills on the kora (West African harp) along with the rest of the trio. 



And the video below shows Kevin Nathaniel Hylton leading audience members in some traditional West African dancing:

The music of West Africa, at once ancient and modern, derives from a deep musical tradition, and incorporates the healing sounds of the wind, water, heartbeat, earth, sky, and sun.

Some background on the performers:

A Yale scholar, teaching artist, mbira player and advocate of African culture, Kevin Nathaniel Hylton has performed at Lincoln Center, Juilliard, the Met Museum and Symphony Space and created multiple performing ensembles exploring the many facets of African (and world) music. His Forestdance trio features two widely renowned African musicians, Famoro Dioubate on balaphon (African xylophone) and Malang Jobarteh (nephew of Salieu Suso) on kora (21 stringed African harp) whose musical traditions date back to the 13th century yet still intrigue and inspire listeners of today.

From Northeastern Guinea, Famoro Dioubate is the grandson of the legendary Djeli Sory Kouyate, one of the most renowned musicians in Guinea and since coming to New York City in 1999, has collaborated in educational programs at the Juilliard School and regularly performs with Keba Cissoko’s Tamalalou, with Sekouba Kandia Kouyate (with whom he has also recorded) and even appeared on the Morristown Green with Sylvain Laroux’s Fula Flute ensemble as part of Music Beyond Borders of 2010.

Malang Jobarteh, from Gambia, was born into a family of traditional storytellers of West Africa, known as griots in French and jeli, jail, guewel or gawlo in African languages. The jeli are the keepers of the extensive oral history of their people. Malang, a master kora player, is also the nephew of the great kora player Salieu Sosa, a descendant of the inventor of the kora.

Please visit for additional coverage, photos and videos from the performance on July 23rd.

Enjoy some VIDEOS from Forestdance’s performance:
Kevin Nathaniel Hylton leads audience members in dance and HERE, he explains the jeli or griot tradition of West Africa…where designated members of the community are the living repositories of the community’s entire oral history and culture. Kevin also describes and demonstrates the beaded gourd known as the shakere. HERE Kevin demonstrates the shakere (beaded gourd) along with instrumental music by Famoro Dioubate on the balaphone (xylophone) and Malang Jobarteh singing and playing the kora (harp) and HERE Malang demonstrates his skill on the kora. HERE the trio plays one of their final pieces.

Here are some PHOTOS from the July 23rd performance :