London is a melting pot, and the tradition that the songs are based in comes from a particular African religion that has , survived, adapted been tolerant of other paths and been able to work alongside them but has also understood that survival has meant change and an understanding of culture and life beyond the practise. It is therefore no surprise that the Choir is also a melting pot. Members come from all around the globe. Here are some of the countries that have been represented in the choir. Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, The Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad, Bermuda, Barbados,Guyana, Mexico, Argentina, Armenia, Finland, Spain, Persia, Israel, France, Germany, Lebanon, Ireland, USA, and of course, the UK. The amount of different languages also spoken in the Choir is also extensive, making it not as difficult as you would expect to teach in a language that is not spoken everyday. The ages range from 17 to 70 and there is no criteria for joining with regards to age. It is truly an intergenerational project. There have been several parents and offspring that have joined us. It is an activity that unites people and so family members can enjoy coming together.
Long Standing Members:
“I was participating in an afrocuban dance class when I heard Daniela sing powerfully to the Orishas …and I thought “I want to do that! “Daniela told me about Martica’s workshops and I got hooked..I’ve been teaching world cinema and visual culture for several years I’m also a photographer . I’ve studied percussion (timbales) and have led singing assemblies and workshops in primary schools with an emphasis on world music. I’ve danced salsa for over 20 years, and was the producer of a long running world music radio programme (Planet Mambo on BBC London). I am also the mother of two teenage musical sons! (one of whom is also in the choir; Dan Greifer!)”
Howard Richmond: Howard started to come to choir after realising that it took place locally. He had been to the same dance class as Mish where Daniela was singing. He is a lawyer by trade and has been a member of the choir since 2007. He has been one of the Choir’s most committed members, he also practises Tai Chi and leads the Choir through some Tai Chi moves at the beginning of sessions. Especially exercises to do with the lungs, breathing and waking up the Chi!
Sonia Kounasso: Sonia is from Benin but was brought up in France. She had experience singing with top RnB Choir MKC before she joined the London Lucumi Choir and now sings Solo with us on Occasion.
Nana Aldrin Quaye: Nana has an interesting background. Originally from Ghana, brought up in Spain and living in London, Nana has been in the Choir for many years. She had seen the Choir perform on several occasions before she joined, and has since had a wealth of experience singing with many bands including Wara. The Choir has seen her grow as a performer and she often sings solo with the choir. She has recently started to sing lead in her own project Nana Y La Escencia. She sung one of the lead parts in Juwon Ogungbe’s “Time and the Trickster’s Heart”
Anita has mixed UK/ Indian heritage and she is known in the choir for her amazing big and beautiful voice; she also sings solo on occasion. She had taken part in some of Martha’s Workshops and was a member of Daniela’s World Music Choir at the Mary Ward Centre before being thrown in the deep end at the Category Finals of the BBC Choir Competition of the Year replacing one ill member.
OTHER MEMBERS STORIES:
Marcia Williams:”In my day job I specialize in organizational change and strategic diversity management. Outside of work I’m Rianna Morgan’s mum and we’re a family of carnival loving soca junkies, making and playing mas every year in carnivals in London and beyond. I also make couture cakes and cupcakes for weddings, birthdays christenings etc!”
Rianna Morgan: An A-level student from London. Keen singer songwriter and guitarist. Infatuated with carnival arts, mas-making and the culture of the Caribbean and South America. Aspiring midwife and lover of all things sparkly
Leah Barnett: ” I am a yoga teacher and massage therapist working in London. I have traveled to Cuba a few times and love singing devotional songs from many traditions.”
“I Love Cuban music and dance in all it’s forms and have been Deejaying under the name of Club Clandestino, playing Cuban Timba, for over 20 years. Also interested in Many forms of African music as well as Samba, Soul and Funk and love seeing bands perform live. I’ve been performing with Paraiso school of Samba for 10 years and took part in the Olympic closing ceremony in 2012 .I have a wonderful son, Leonardo. I’m self employed and currently work as a food Photographer.”
Michael Joffe: “I have been involved in Latin music for over 20 years when I started dancing salsa. I was a lost soul before that! In addition to singing in the choir, and Cuban dancing, I also play keyboard in a Latin band.”
Steven “Gyrus” Taylor: Gyrus builds websites for a living, and writes to stay alive. He has written extensively about spirituality and magic, especially relating to prehistoric art and culture.
Sabine Cleizergues: Sabine is French and this is what she had to say.
“Coming from a tiny village I had no early access to artistic activities and I joined the choir with no prior singing experience. I was drawn to Afro-cuban music through dance and I love the raw energy from the percussions and rhythms. Although there are several professional musicians/singers in the choir the atmosphere is not intimidating at all and everybody is truly welcome regardless of level or abilities. As I found out singing is in fact a good way of relieving stress and brings people together no matter age, background or religion.”
Dan Greifer is Mish’s Son, and is currently the youngest member of the choir, yet one of the olders serving members of the Choir. The Choir has seen him through the difficult process of Voice breaking.
Lilli Elina: is a talented multi- instrumentalist originally from Finland. She has been coming to choir for almost two years and contributed to the “Lullaby for Naila” Cd with a couple of original arrangements on the Piano. She Plays percussion, piano and bass and her credits include “Salsiology” and “Penya”. She is also an arranger of music.
Debbie White: is Jamaican British with a Cuban link (father born in Cuba, Jamaican background) Music Tutor – specializing in music production & sound engineering, also working with singing & song-writing and projects. Instruments played guitar & drums. Currently working as a music tutor in a school for young people with Special Educational needs. currently working on a singing/rapping & song-writing recording project with young adults with special needs. “I first discovered The Lucumi Choir when they performed at Union Chapel. I was charmed by the vibe and spirit of the choir. I contacted Daniela and joined as soon as I could. The energy of the choir is really great.”
Members Currently active also include:
Ulanah Morris, Izzy dabiri, Keith Johnson, Katya Metz, Xenia Savva, Sandra Morales, Sophia Barrett, Susan Davis , Rocio Ayala, Juanita Euka, Anne-Marie Perks, Sheila Ruiz.
Past Members Include:
Mariana Whitehouse, Jose Hendricks, Eliane Correa, Sara Mcguiness, Namvula Rennie, Tayo Alao, Michael Rathbone, kayode Olafimihan, Isabel munoz, Karen Brown, Sarah Wackett, Jennie Debenham, Sarah Write, Paris Johnson, Michael Rosselson, Annabel morales, Davinia Bano, Melissa Blanco Borelli, Lee crisp, Hamish orr, Irina Rey, Jessica Hand, Dorothea Smartt. Lynn Bird, Emma Dabiri.
The Choir meets regularly to rehearse, but we also have fun and get together socially
London is a transcient city. People come and go, and people get married, have children, move towns. The door is always open and some members leave and come back. If you would like to join please fill out the contact form below.