The boundary between the land of the living and the realm of the spirits

Featuring the Creator of Women of the Calabash and Drummers from the Lion King and Tarzan


In the summer of 2011, master percussionists Javier Diaz (Disney's Tarzan, ASO) and Madeiline Yayodele Nelson (Women of the Calabash) joined forces with some of the best artists in New York City to create a new group called KALUNGA. Their goal was to highlight not only amazing drumming and dancing, but to reveal the depth behind it.

KALUNGA is a new and unique experience based on ancient traditions.

KALUNGA artists hail from all over the world with influences from Africa and the African Diaspora, specifically Cuba, Peru, and Haiti.

KALUNGA performances provide audiences an experience that exalts the human spirit and celebrates all cultures.

KALUNGA promotes creativity, diversity, and respect for the earth.

Kalunga: the boundardy between the land of the living and the realm of the spirits.


Javier Diaz, a native of Cuba, is a percussionist with the American Symphony Orchestra and with several chamber music groups and Latin Jazz Bands in the New York Area. He has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, New York Perspectives Ensemble, Zankel Hall New Music Band, Hilliard Ensemble, and Broadway's productions of Man of La Mancha, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Brooklyn, Tarzan, Guys and Dolls, The Wiz, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and The Lion King. His studio credits include ECM's Tituli by Stephen Hartke with the Hilliard Ensemble, award-winning films such as Tango Flush and Jesus Camp and many TV and radio commercials.

As an Afro-Cuban percussion specialist Mr. Diaz has appeared with: Sean Kingston, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Patty LaBelle, Lazaro Galarraga's Afro-Cuban All Stars, percussionists Angel Luis Figueroa, Candido Camero, Román Diaz and Pedro Martinez, The Panamerican Jazz Band, The Ethnix, Anette Aguilars Latin Jazz Group, Marta Topferova, Edmar Castañeda and the New York World Music Institute. He is currently a member and co-director of the world music group Tribal Sage, a collaborative effort with fellow percussionist Roger Squitero.

An active educator Mr. Diaz has taught classical percussion at El Sistema de Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela and at his private studio in New York City. He has also taught Afro-Cuban percussion seminars, classes and clinics at the Peabody Institute, University of Southern California, Percussion Artists Workshops Los Angeles/New York, Los Angeles School District, The Juilliard School and Mannes School of Music in New York City.

Mr. Diaz currently teaches the Afro-Latin percussion survey at the Juilliard School and directs the Afro-Cuban Percussion Ensemble at Rutgers University. His most recent book on Afro-Cuban percussion, The Afro-Cuban Handbook, has become an instant classic of the percussion literature.

As a composer, Mr. Diaz has been commissioned by the Aspen Music Festival, New York University, and University of Southern California. His classical music is currently available through Bachovich Music.

An alumnus of El Sistema de Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela and the Aspen Music Festival, Mr. Diaz holds a BM from the University of Southern California and a MM from The Juilliard School.

Kalunga: the boundardy between the land of the living and the realm of the spirits.


Madeleine Yayodele Nelson is a musician, composer, educator, and craftswoman residing in New York City. Educated in Pennsylvania, where she received a B.S. at Slippery Rock University, she has taught in the public school systems of Pennsylvania and New York.

A celebrated percussionist, Ms. Nelson has performed live and on radio, television and film in may parts of the world, and has composed and performed music for Off Broadway Theater (Her Talking Drum, American Place Theater) and several videos. She has been profiled and interviewed in many publications throughout the United States and abroad, and her orchestration skills are highlighted in Sule Greg Wilson's book "The Drummer's Path".

Ms. Nelson has presented master classes in shekere playing throughout the United States, in London and in Bahia, Brazil. She has lectured at The Julliard School and taught master classes at the Manhattan School of Music. She has also taught instrument making workshops in such places as the American Museum of Natural History, The Open Center, and the Jamaica Arts Center, to name a few. She continues to participate in panels and symposia fir such institutions as the Caribbean Cultural Center and the World Music Institute.

Ms. Nelson's film credits include Marlon Rigg's "Black Is Black Ain't" and the American Bible Society's "The Visit". Her recording credits include Paul Simon's "The Rhythm of the Saints", Billy Harper's "Somalia", and WOMEN OF THE CALABASH's "Kwanzaa Album", as well as several recordings with Gabrielle Roth and Edie Brickell. In 1990 Ms. Nelson toured Japan with Gretchen Langheld's band to promote the self-titled "House Afire". Ms. Nelson teaches studio classes and gives private lessons.

Ms. Nelson is founder and artistic director of WOMEN OF THE CALABASH, an internationally acclaimed vocal and percussion ensemble. WOMEN OF THE CALABASH performs traditional African, African Caribbean, and African American music interwoven with informative dialogue highlighting indigenous playing techniques and historical use of the music. Founded in 1978, the Company has performed throughout the United States, as well as in the British Isles, Europe, West Africa, South America, and the Caribbean.

Highlights of WOMEN OF THE CALABASH's festival work include Italy's Jazz in Sardegna, London's Camden Festival, Martinique's SERMAC Festival, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the French Guyana's GuyanAfrique. The Company has also toured and collaborated with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. In 1985, WOMEN OF THE CALABASH was invited to Burkina Faso, West Africa by President Tomas Sankara to participate in the second anniversary of the Burkinabe revolution. The company has also given private performances for President Jean Bertrand Aristede of Haiti and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.

Kalunga: the boundardy between the land of the living and the realm of the spirits.


Sheila has lived in New York for most of her life, but her childhood, and core is housed in Haiti where art is prevalent to everything.

She began her formal training in dance at Long Island University where she met Ella Thompson Moore, an original member of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre, who encouraged her to keep dancing. But it wasn't until she was under the support and inspiration of Pat Hall did she find freedom in it.

Notable performances have taken Sheila to venues and festivals across the United States and around the world, including Nuits Atypiques de Langon in France, Ha Noi Opera House, & White Palace Convention Center in Vietnam, the Montreal International Jazz Festival in Canada, Vollos Festival in Greece, The Hague Holland Dance Festival in the Netherlands, and the Altstdtherbst Festival in Germany. New York performances include: Lincoln Center "Out of Doors," The Joyce Theatre, Town Hall, Dance Theatre Workshop, The Kitchen, Joe's Pub, and SOB's.

Sheila serves as choreographer for Brave New World Repertory Theatre: (As You Like It in 2010, The Crucible in 2008 and 2010, The Tempest in 2009 and Crossing Brooklyn Ferry in 2007). She performs with Bonga and the Vodou Drums of Haiti, and is co-artistic director of "Sanble" – a show featuring Afro-Caribbean rhythms and dance with a distinctly global flavor. Sheila also teaches workshops and classes for various organizations throughout the United States.

Kalunga: the boundardy between the land of the living and the realm of the spirits.


Sebastian Guerrero was born in Brazil to a Peruvian father, American mother and raised in New Jersey. As an artist, he honors the many cultures that influence him through his music. Sebastian has studied with master percussionists in New Orleans, New York City, Cuba, Brazil and Perú, giving him a broad musical vocabulary. He is an experienced performer on Latin percussion and drumset.

In 1997 Sebastian set off to Perú to study the unique percussive instruments played in the Afro-Peruvian tradition. In a small farming village off the coast, Sebastian had the honor of living, studying, and performing with the Ballumbrosio family, Perú's foremost authority on the Afro-Peruvian tradition. Having lived in Perú for extended periods of time, he has studied the art of the Peruvian cajón (box drum) and the unique tap dance tradition called zapateo. In 2003, Sebastian was initiated as a member of the historic zapateo group "Los Negritos del Carmen". He has danced with them for several years in the important Christmas celebrations in the surrounding villages of Chincha, Perú. In Perú, Sebastian performed regularly with Chincha's "Grupo Pinta y Canela".

Sebastian has also traveled to Cuba to study with members of "Danza Contemporanea de Cuba" as well as with "Grupo Afro-Cuba de Matanzas". In New York, he has continued his studies with various Afro-Cuban musicians including masters such as Roman Diaz, Michael Spiro, and Regino Jimenez. He has performed Cuban music with "Los Afortunados", "Oriki Omi Odara", and his own group "Grupo Ara Oko". Sebastian was awarded the 2001-2002 Folklife Apprenticeship Grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for the study of Afro-Cuban ceremonial drumming.

Kalunga: the boundardy between the land of the living and the realm of the spirits.


Grant Braddock is a freelance drummer, percussionist, and educator based in New York City. Broadway credits include substitute performances with The Lion King, Green Day's American Idiot, and Spring Awakening. Off-Broadway credits include Shakespeare in the Park's Winter's Tale and substitute performances with RENT.

Grant has toured as a feature performer with The Great Moscow Circus, Blast!, and will be the drummer in the upcoming national tour of Green Day's American Idiot. Grant has also performed with La La Brooks of The Crystals, Deep Purple, and Aretha Franklin. He is on staff as a dance accompanist at Marymount Manhattan College and New York University, and has substitute taught at The New School.

Grant has studied, taught performed throughout the United States, South Africa, Taiwan, Brazil, and Japan. He holds a B.M. from The University of Oklahoma and a M.M. from Rutgers University.

Kalunga: the boundardy between the land of the living and the realm of the spirits.


Mike Ramsey is a Brooklyn-based drummer/percussionist known for his versatility. An original member of the group AZAGUNO, he studied, traveled, and performed with his mentor Dr. Paschal Yao Younge for many years before moving to New York. From steel pan to orchestral percussion, Mike is comfortable in any musical environment.

Orchestra credits include extra/section percussion for The Philadelphia Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, and Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas. Broadway credits include substitute percussion for The Lion King & Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

As a dance accompanist Mike can be found at the Alvin Ailey Extension, NYU, and CAP21 among others. As an educator in New York City he works with such groups as BAM (DanceAfrica), PurElements, Young Audiences, and The Leadership Program.

Mike holds a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University and a master's degree from Rutgers University. From 2005-2007 he was Visiting Professor of Percussion and World Music at Chung Ang University in South Korea.

Kalunga: the boundardy between the land of the living and the realm of the spirits.


Desert Passage




Kalunga: the boundardy between the land of the living and the realm of the spirits.