Valerie Dee Naranjo
Valerie Dee Naranjo (percussionist, vocalist, composer, clinician) known for her pioneering efforts in West African keyboard percussion music, is originally from Southern Colorado. She moved to New York City after completing studies in vocal and instrumental music education (U. of Oklahoma) and Percussion Performance (Ithaca College). In 1988 her playing of the gyil's traditional repertoire in Ghana's KOBINE FESTIVAL OF TRADITIONAL MUSIC led to the declaration of a chiefly decree in the Dagara nation that women be allowed to play the instrument for the first time.
She plays percussion for NBC's Saturday Night Live Band, and has recorded and performed with Broadway's The Lion King, The Philip Glass Ensemble, David Byrne, The Paul Winter Consort, Tori Amos, Airto Moreira, and the international percussion ensemble, MEGADRUMS, which includes Milton Cardona, Zakir Hussein, and Glen Velez.
Recent film score recordings include "Final Fantasy - The Dream Within" and "Frida". Her work and music have been written about in "Modern Drummer", "Drum!", "Rhythm", "Percussive Notes", and "World Percussion Rhythm". She was named "World Music Percussionist of the Year" 2005 and 2008, as winner of DRUM! Magazine Reader's Poll in that category. She has recorded several CDs of traditional gyil music with Kakraba Lobi and Barry Olsen, and the CD Zie Mwea with Mr. Olsen and Bernard Woma. Her solo Native American CD "Orenda" is on the Ellipsis Arts Label, and her series of sixteen written transcriptions and CDs, "West African Music for the Marimba Soloist" , "Traditional World Music for Western Percussion Ensemble" and "Lewaa's Dream (Ancient and Contemporary Music for West African Marimba)" are published by Mandara Music.