Artist Bios

Africa Cuba Canada Concert: Friday May 18, 2018
Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St. W. 8:30 pm

TICKETS: $30-35 here

Abebe Fikade and Mimi Zenebe

Azmari performers Abebe Fikade and Mimi Zenebe, are skilled at improvisation and play an important role in Ethiopian society.  Like the griots or praise singers of West Africa, the Azmari are a unique social group In Ethiopia consisting of men and women who make a living by playing and singing music. The Azmari sing about topical events, historical epics, love and culture. Azmari songs contain verses that are typically created by the vocalist(s), or as is the tradition, the audience suggests poems or themes for the vocalist to improvise on. They are insightful and adept at inventing metaphors to describe specific situations and use humour to entertain their audiences. The Azmari act as conduits of public opinion in voicing criticism of the ruling class and are employed for cultural events, weddings and other celebrations. Azmari often perform in drinking establishments called tej bet (house), which specialize in the serving of tej (honey mead).
Abebe Fikade comes from a long line of Azmari from the Gondar regions performing songs with traditional and contemporary themes. He is a masenqo (single-stringed fiddle) player, vocalist and composer, who performs the monochord music of the Azmari. Fikade has toured internationally on various tours arranged by Frances Falceto of the Ethiopiques music series. He has performed in Toronto at the Habari Africa Festival at Harbourfront Centre, Sounds of Saba at Alliance Francaise, Ethiopia: A Musical Perspective at Glenn Gould Studio and the Luminato festival, as well as various Ethiopian restaurants, community events, festivals and clubs. Mimi Zenebe, performing alongside her fellow Azmari, is a talented vocalist and dancer, hailing from a musical family and known as the “Edith Piaf” of Ethiopia. She has been performing traditional music from a young age and has shared the stage with many Ethiopian artists and groups. Zenebe was the lead vocalist for U.K.’s Dub Colossus, touring and recording albums released on Real World Records. She has perfected her skills as a vocalist, dancer and performer of Azmari songs. Abebe and Mimi will be accompanied by Ethiopian drummer Bereket Tekabu.

The masinqo is a single-stringed fiddle played by the Azmari and one of the most popular instruments for traditional Ethiopian music. Although it functions in a purely accompaniment capacity in songs, the masenqo requires considerable virtuosity as the azmari accompany themselves while singing. The instrument consists of a square or diamond-shaped resonator made of small wooden boards glued together, then covered with a stretched parchment or hide. The single string is typically made of horse hair, and passes over a bridge. The instrument is tuned by means of a large tuning peg to fit the range of the singer’s voice. It may be bowed by either the right or left hand, and the non-bow hand sits lightly on top of the string.


 Blending jazz, Afro-Cuban and classical forms, and world rhythms, OKAN takes inspiration from the roots of Cuban music and contributes to the contemporary evolution of these powerful traditions in the global context. Embracing genres and roles that have historically been dominated by men, co-leaders, composers and multi-instrumentalists Elizabeth Rodriguez and Magdelys Savigne bring a fresh perspective to Latin and world jazz fusion through their powerful vocals, incredible musicianship and potent lyrical content.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Elizabeth Rodriguez is a classically trained violinist and served as Concertmaster for Havana’s Youth Orchestra. Since moving to Canada in 2013, she has worked extensively with JUNO-winning  and current GRAMMY nominated ensemble, Jane Bunnett & Maqueque and The Battle of Santiago and performed with Toronto’s top timba and salsa ensembles.

Hailing from  Santiago de Cuba, drummer/percussionist Magdelys Savigne graduated with honours in orchestral percussion from Havana’s University of The Arts. A JUNO-winner and current GRAMMY nominated  artist with Jane Bunnett & Maqueque, Magdelys is also an integral part of The Battle of Santiago and Bill King’s Rhythm Express.

Extensive tours with these projects have included stops at Birdland, The Blue Note, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center and San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens in as well as the Miami, Montreal, San Jose Jazz Festivals, among others. Living and and collaborating in the intensely multicultural city of Toronto has enriched OKAN’s composition and performances with influences from Turkey, Brazil and New Orleans. Having performed as OKAN at the Beaches Jazz Festival and Canada’s first Women in Percussion Festival, Elizabeth and Magdelys are taking both their traditions and their highly original and impactful project to the world.

OKAN will perform on Friday night, May 18 as a quartet with the wonderful Roberto Riveron on bass and Danae Olano on piano.  On Saturday, May 19,  Elizabeth and Magdelys will also lend their talents in a Workshop on Cuban fiddling then join the Around the World Jam Saturday afternoon.

Shane Cook  

A Canadian and US National fiddle champion, Shane Cook captivates audiences with technically thrilling and adventurous performances. Noted by The Canadian Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame as one of the “finest fiddlers in the world today,” Cook has distinguished himself as a master of the Canadian old-time fiddle tradition. He also excels at styles ranging from Irish and Scottish to French-Canadian and Bluegrass. After a concert at The Opera House in Boston, the Boston Herald proclaimed “Shane Cook’s Celtic fiddling was enough to break hearts.” In 2006, Shane retired from competitive fiddling as one of Canada’s most highly awarded fiddlers. He is a three-time Canadian Open National Champion, a three-time Canadian Grand Masters Champion, a Grand North American Champion, and is the only foreign fiddler to win the US Grand National Championship, a feat he accomplished at just 17 years of age.

Shane’s most recent recognition came in 2012 when he received a CBC Galaxie Rising Star Award as well as a Young Tradition Bearer Award, granted by the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival for his dedication and contribution to traditional and roots music in Canada. In concert, Shane captivates audiences with his danceable playing that is as adventurous as it is technically thrilling. His expressive and virtually flawless performances place him in high demand among a variety of ensembles and collaborations that have seen him tour extensively in Canada, the US, the UK, Ireland, Germany, China and Taiwan.

Shane leads his own group, Shane Cook & The Woodchippers, in a variety of configurations ranging from three to six members.  Hehas four solo recordings to his credit including “Cookin’ on the Fiddle,” “Heritage Fiddles” and ” Sundry,” a superb eclectic sampling of several of Shane’s masterful fiddling styles. His fourth solo release, a self-titled project, is a collection of the most important and influential tunes in his own Canadian old-time fiddle repertoire that the London Free Press describes as “Relaxed, sprightly…and brilliantly played.”

 Past Performances Include:
Musical Director of Canadian Powerhouse; The Opera House, Branson, MO
The Governor General’s Awards; National Arts Centre, Ottawa, ON
The World Fair; Hanover, Germany
Soloist with the Canada Pops Orchestra; Hummingbird Centre, Toronto, ON
Soloist with International Symphony Orchestra; Sarnia, ON & Port Huron, MI
Soloist with Stratford Symphony Orchestra; Stratford, ON
The Nashville Network Studio, Nashville, TN
Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN

Shane will be performing Friday night, May 18, 2018, with Guitarist/ Champion stepdancer Kyle Weymouth.

TICKETS for this wonderful night of music from 3 countries: $30-$35 HERE