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Lisa Loving of The Skanner News
Published: 06 September 2012

A spokeswoman for the family today announced that Ghanaian master drummer Obo Addy is in the final stages of liver cancer and has only a few weeks to live.

"His family has requested privacy at this difficult time, and is directing his fans and friends to CaringBridge for health updates and to leave messages, photos and memories, which will be shared with Addy," wrote Chris Crabb in the announcement.

She says the family has also set up an IndieGoGo page to help raise funds for his medical expenses.

Addy, a resident of North Portland, is unique in the deep connections he has formed with schoolchildren throughout the Portland area. He and his two music ensembles have performed for and taught many tens of thousands of youngsters over the past 40 years through the Young Audiences program and local school districts.

As those children grew up, their children became students and fans of the explosive percussion-driven sounds of the master drummer and his family of artists.

"Addy is working as long as his body will allow, realizing that continuing to play and listen to his music is cathartic as he moves through this final step of this illness," Crabb wrote today. "His most recent performance was August 19 with Portland Taiko at the Mt. Scott Community Center. He is still hoping to record one last song he wrote at Falcon Studios."

In an interview with The Skanner News last year, Addy described his long career as a musician in the Pacific Northwest. He told stories of bringing his African drum ensemble Okropong to a logger bar in Eastern Oregon, winning over a crowd that at first had no idea what to make of them.

Addy was triumphant earlier this summer with a one-night-only performance of DiaTribe: From the Village to the Streets, taking the stage with young musicians and dancers for a performance showing the connections between African music and hip-hop.

The show was recorded and is currently being developed into a teaching curriculum for arts educators.

Addy won a the National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts under President Bill Clinton, the Governors Award for the Arts in Oregon, The Masters Fellowship from the Regional Arts and Culture Council and the Masters Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission.

For more information, visit www.oboaddylegacyproject.org.

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