About Kulu Mele

About Kulu Mele


Inspired by the voices of its ancestors, Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble preserves and presents the traditional dance and music of Africa and the African Diaspora, and celebrates contemporary African American culture.

About Kulu Mele

Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kulu Mele has been a highly regarded cultural institution in the Delaware Valley for nearly 50 years.  Kulu Mele’s performance repertoire features authentic, traditional dance and drumming from West Africa, Cuba and (coming Fall, 2016) Brazil, as well as contemporary American hip hop.  Kulu Mele performs year-round throughout Philadelphia and tours nationally and internationally.  Kulu Mele has performed at some of world’s most prestigious performing arts venues, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and the Frank Gehry-designed Disney Hall at The Los Angeles Music Center.  In September, 2015, Kulu Mele performed as part of the official entertainment during the Philadelphia visit of Pope Francis.  Kulu Mele’s extensive arts education program, Omo Kulu Mele, serves thousands of Philadelphia school children annually.  Founded in 1969 by Baba Robert Crowder, Kulu Mele has been led by artistic director Dorothy Wilkie for more than 25 years.

Kulu Mele in the Media

“Kulu Mele’s expertly crafted artistry emphasizes the enduring power of community.”
R. Eric Thomas, thINKingDANCE.net

Kulu Mele is deeply committed to maintaining African based traditions; it invites audiences into the beauty, mystery and glamour of the true African aesthetic.”
Janet Anderson, Broad Street Review

Kulu Mele is spellbinding.”
Merilyn Jackson, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Kulu Mele interview with Kimberly Haas on WHYY Radio 90.9 FM

Kulu Mele interview with Stephanie Renee on WURD Radio 900 AM

Kulu Mele review by Jennifer DeHuff in the Philadelphia Daily News (please click link and then scroll down)


Baba Robert Crowder (1930-2012)

Robert Crowder was a nationally renowned jazz percussionist, whose legendary career included performances with John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner and John Hines. He began to study African folk music and dance in the 1940s, and he made it his mission to revive African cultural traditions in the United States. In 1969, he recorded an album, “Voices of Africa,” with accomplished Ghanaian artist and musician Saka Acquaye. It was re-released in 2002 by Nonesuch Records. A lifelong resident of Philadelphia, Crowder’s artistic honors included a Pew Fellowship in the Arts and awards from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.


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