Center For Arts & Equity

John Hughes

John Hughes is an internationally renowned composer, kora player, percussionist and vocalist. Whether playing and singing elegant and stately pieces from the classical repertoire of the Jeli’s of West Africa, or original compositions that mingle disparate cultural influences, John's kora playing has an uncommon beauty that is at once exquisitely intimate and bold. His signature pieces are rhythmically nuanced, laced with syncopations that cascade off the strings into whirlpools of mesmerizing sound. Playing traditional instruments not often heard in the United States (many of which he builds himself), John takes his audience on an intimate tour of musical expressions of joy and hope, at once soothing and up-lifting.

Also an acclaimed sculptor, dancer, instrument builder and educator, John holds a B.F.A. from the Tyler School of Art of Temple University and the West Surrey College of Art and Design in Farnham, England and an M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. John has studied the music, song, and dance of West Africa for over 34 years, training with numerous master drummers and dancers from Guinea and Mali, including Mamady Keita, Famoudou Konate and Youssouf Koumbassa. As a Kora player however, John is totally self-taught and has developed a style all his own while still being deeply rooted in the ancient Mande tradition.

John has taught sculpture, drawing, design and dance in schools and universities throughout the United States including The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Skidmore College. He has taught kora and drumming classes and workshops across the U.S. and Canada for the past 30 years, maintaining weekly classes in Northampton, MA and in his hometown of Brattleboro, Vermont. John performs regularly and has released 6 CDs of original music.

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