Former ACTA Apprenticeship Artist Publishes Book

ACTA - Posted on 29 July 2011

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Carlos Aldama sits with his batá drum.In 2009, master artist Carlos Aldama participated in ACTA's Apprenticeship Program with apprentice Umi Vaughan. The focus of their work together was on the instruction of how to use the three batá drums; as well as the learning of songs, dances, and folktales associated with various drum rhythms; and the mechanic and ritual maintenance of the drums. From their collaborations arose the new book by Umi Vaughan, Carlos Aldama's Life in Batá: Cuba, Diaspora, and the Drum, which is set to be released in January of 2012 from Indiana University Press.  The book is now available to pre-order.

The official summary of the book follows:

Through the life history of a renowned Cuban music director, recognized batá master, and international music teacher, Carlos Aldama's Life in Batá traces the history of the batá (two-headed, hourglass-shaped) drum from Africa to Cuba and the U.S., and documents the inherent tensions of the tradition between shores and generations. The family of the three batá drums is one of the richest cultural legacies that enslaved Yoruba people brought with them into the New World. Batá rhythms helped maintain religious and cultural practices shared by millions of people spread far and wide. Through Aldama's first person accounts and Umi Vaughan's analysis, teacher and student bring to light the techniques and principles of a shared practice of drumming, singing, and communal dancing. The book includes rare photographs and access to downloadable audio tracks.

Carlos Aldama is omo Añá (sworn to the drum) and a priest of Changó in the Santería religion. He is a founding member of Conjunto Folklórico Nacional de Cuba and studied under its original musical director Jesus Pérez, eventually serving as musical director himself. Aldama was born in Havana and lives in Oakland, CA.

Umi Vaughan is also omo Añá, and is a priest of Ochun in the Santería religion.  He is an artist and anthropologist who explores dance, creates photographs and performances, and publishes about African Diaspora culture. Vaughan is Assistant Professor of African Studies at California State University, Monterey Bay, and author of Rebel Dance, Renegade Stance: Timba Music and Black Identity in Cuba.

To pre-order Carlos Aldama's Life in Batá, call 1-800-842-6796 or visit

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