Habib Iddrisu was born into the Dagomba/Dagbamba family of court historians and musicians in Gukpegu/Tamale of Northern Ghana. His grandfather Manguli-lana Adam Alhassan was a chief drummer.
Growing up in the drummer’s home. Habib was inspired by his grandfather and great uncles, many of whom were famous Dagbon musicians.
Like many of his cousins, Habib started playing both the lung-a (talking drum) and gungong (supporting drum) at age six.
A child prodigy, by age eight Habib was renowned throughout the region for his dancing and drumming in styles such as Takai, Bamaya, and Atikatika.
As a teenager, Habib came in contact with Olumani Choo, a drum and dance teacher from southern Ghana who inspired and encouraged him to learn traditional music and dances from a variety of ethnic groups, including; the Ewe, Ga, Akan, Fon, Malinke, Baga and Mossi.
While still in high school, Habib was discovered by the late Yaw Asare and Dr. William Anku (University of Ghana) and selected to join other Ghanaian artists representing on an Asian tour.
After completing high school in Tamale, Habib moved to Accra where he taught and performed with some city’s fines cultural groups.
He was later invited by Nii Kwei Sowah (Oh! Nii) to join Abibigromma, the Resident Theatre Company of the University of Ghana-Legon.
Habib regularly traveled internationally with Abibigromma and other Ghanaian folkloric groups.
In 1993, Habib won an award as Ghana’s Best Dancer. His work in Ghana is remembered for his leadership of the Novisi Dance group, Democratic League Youth of Ghana’s Cultural group, Bomukasa Dance group and choreographer at-large in Ayawaso and Arts Center areas in Accra.
Habib was also the choreographer of both Kinachu and Kisa groups to welcome President Bill Clinton’s visits to Ghana in 1996.
In 2002, Habib’s version of South African gumboot dance was selected and presented at the National American College Dance Festival (ACDF) at Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
Habib is currently a final year M.A. student in African History in Bowling Green State University, Ohio. Habib has taught African music and dance classes at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cleveland State University, James Madison University, Lake Erie College, and University of Toledo.
Representative Scholarly Work:
2003 “Singing Bamaya: The Role of a Praise Singer in
Traditional Dagbamba Music,” presented at the 48th annual seminar for the Society of Ethnomusicology, Miami Florida. October 2003.
2003 – 2002 Co-Author of the Book “From the House of Our Ancestors: Bamaya and the Dagbamba of Northern Ghana.” With Dr. Steve Cornelius, Professor of Ethnomusicology at Bowling Green State University, Ohio. (Forthcoming).
2002 Paper/demonstration at the 47th annual meeting for Society of Ethnomusicology, Colorado.
2002 “Tradition and Change” presented at the 4th annual Africana Studies students research colloquium. Bowling Green State University, Ohio.
2001 “Military Intervention: Socio-Political and Economic Consequences in Ghana” presented at the 3rd annual Africana Studies student research colloquium, Bowling Green, Ohio.
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