Zansa with friends tonight at Isis Music Hall in West Asheville


Sounds great. Press release here:

An Evening of Global Dance Music at Isis Music Hall
Zansa headlines, with Juan Benavides Group, African dancer Barakissa Coulibaly, and guitarist Moussa Kone
Friday April 18, 2014

Local afropop band Zansa is returning to the stage at Isis Music Hall on April 18, this time with some new inspiration and new friends. Frontman Adama Dembele recently returned from a trip to Ivory Coast, where he performed at the weeklong MASA Festival, which features African music, theatre, dance, and comedy from around the world. Having just arrived in Asheville to continue her dance performing and teaching, Barakissa Coulibaly will be joining the Zansa show this spring. Originally from Abobo, Ivory Coast, the same city as Zansa frontman Adama Dembele, Barakissa has performed and taught in almost 20 countries throughout her career. Other special guests to include guitarist Moussa Kone, also from Ivory Coast, and opening act Juan Benavides Group, playing Spanish/Middle Eastern fusion. “We want to transport people to my village,” says Zansa singer Adama Dembele, “and show them what a West African dance party is like.”

The evening will also feature globally-inspired dinner specials from Chef Mike Mahoney. Past dishes have included chicken maffe, Moroccan mussels, and caraway encrusted pork belly with Ras el hanout couscous and fried plantains with chili oil.


The music of Zansa, a Nouchi slang word from Ivory Coast meaning “combination” or “blend,” is a synthesis of traditional and modern styles from West Africa. The Asheville, NC-based ensemble melds modern afropop with African folk music, African drumming, and the fiery dance-oriented Ivorian street music called Zouglou. Zansa is led by 33rd generation West African musician Adama Dembele, a native of Ivory Coast, whose family lineage is recognized internationally as “Djembeso” or House of the Djembe.

With years of international performing experience, Dembele relocated to Asheville, NC in 2005 to start his own project. With Zansa, he has continued to develop and expand his sound, now
singing in multiple languages—French, Baoule, Bambara, and English—creating a multicultural mix of original songs and traditional stories. Today, Zansa is taking those traditional African songs and rhythms and incorporating Western instruments, such as electric guitar, acoustic and electric violins, bass, and drum set, offering a wide range of sonic possibilities. The result is an original take on the authentic music of West Africa.

Juan Benavides Group blends traditional and new Flamenco and Middle Eastern styles with a modern soul/rock edge. Founder, Juan Benavides, hails from Bogota, Colombia. He studied flamenco guitar in Spain and toured extensively throughout the US. His music has been featured on several Putumayo collections. Oud player, Aaron Kaczmarek, wandered the world from Senegal to India exploring and incorporating some of the oldest musical traditions in the world. Native Colombian, Juan David de Narvaez, comes from a long line of musicians, and after immigrating to the US focused his efforts on the cajon. Asheville native, vocalist Whitney Moore, spent four years studying and performing in Mexico and Spain and brings a touch of blue-eyed soul to her interpretation of Latin styles. Ryan Oslance plays drum kit primarily with avant-garde progressive rock band, The Ahleuchatistas, although he honed his hidden talent for latin grooves while traveling in Spain. The result of their collaboration is a fascinating musical exploration that begins in Andalusia and encompasses the rhythmic and melodic variety of a surprising array of influences from all corners of the globe.

Barakissa Coulibaly is a dancer/choreographer and teacher who hails from Abobo, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. She started her career in traditional dance in 1990 with Fotemogoban, an Ivorian dance troupe based at the Cultural Center of Abobo. She developed her signature style during the next decade, performing internationally with Djolem in Switzerland, Greece, France, and Germany. In 1998, Barakissa joined the company of Aicha Kone—the diva of Ivorian popular music and grand dame of Afropop—touring Cameroon, Gabon, Benin, Congo, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso.

Between 2000 and 2011, Barakissa collaborated with various international artists and performing in Spain, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, the United Kingdom, Japan, the Netherlands, Mali, Senegal, and France. In fall 2012, she traveled to the United States to learn more about American-based festivals and initiatives for African dance, such as the Tallahassee African Dance Festival, the Festival of the African Diaspora, the Festival of Dance and Drums, and the Giwayen Mata Festival in Atlanta, GA.
Friday April 18th at 9:00pm
Ages 18+
$10 in advance, $12 at the door
Isis Restaurant & Music Hall
743 Haywood Rd., West Asheville
(828) 575-2737