Joakim Lartey was
born in Ghana, West Africa. He was mentored by traditional
musicians and folklorists.
He is the first son of ace sportscaster and journalist Joe
Lartey ("Over to you Joe Lartey") of GBC radio fame. He
grew up in Ghana's capital, Accra and was immersed in the
music of the streets and countryside. As a young boy, he
was exposed to the music and rhythms of many cultural
groups that coalesced around the famous Achimota School and
The Institute of African Studies. He spent time around the
carving studio of Mr Kofi Antubam, a major Ghanaian icon.
He attended Prempeh College a boarding school in Kumasi the
capital of Ashanti culture. He attended cultural gatherings
all over the city on weekend passes from school. He
listened and played constantly with like-minded young
musicians. Like many of his contemporaries, he was drawn to
American and British popular music piped in by short wave
radio from Accra and overseas. He immersed himself in the
burgeoning Afro-funk movement which fused African rhythms
with the sound and attitude of rock, funk, soul and jazz.
He performed in a few youth bands. (Wantu Wazuri among
others) He travelled to the USA as an exchange student,
lived in Washington State and played percussion in stage
bands and rock bands around the state. This was soon after
the original Woodstock Festival. He returned to Ghana for
two more years at Prempeh College. (for Ghana and British
system folks, the A-Levels)
He returned to the U.S. and graduated from Vassar College
studying Biology and Ethnomusicology. While there, he
played in jazz groups notably Poughkeepsie based "Sextus".
After college, he studied at the Creative Music Studio in
Woodstock under the guidance of many master musicians from
Jazz and World traditions like Karl Berger, Colin Walcott,
Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Ingrid Sertso and many others...
He was the lead vocalist and percussionist of trailblazing,
Woodstock-based Afro-funk band
He has worked with artists from diverse genres including
Jack DeJohnette, Baba Olatunji, Natalie Merchant, John
Hall, Kali Fasteau, Phoebe Legere and many others...
He has worked with innovative and original theater groups
like Hudson River Playback Theatre and Arm of The Sea
Joakim is an audio and studio enthusiast. He produces his
music in a computer assisted studio environment.
He plays an assortment of electronic and acoustic drums and
percussion instruments... congas, bongos, timbales, talking
drum, sentir (ancestral bass), balaphone, drumkat trigger
pads, miscellaneous hand percussion instruments and voice.
He has facilitated rhythm workshops in the US, Jamaica and
Brazil and performs in a wide variety of venues like
schools, colleges and community centers...