Released January 28, 2022
by EarUp Records
On October 10, 2019, a unique and diverse collection of musicians gathered at the WTMD radio station in Towson, Maryland, to create a studio recording in front of a live audience. All of these artists—vocalists, rappers, a DJ, beatboxer, banjo picker, trumpeter, keyboardist—were pulled into orbit by the two musicians at the center of this project, two men from two vastly different worlds: Tuvan throat-singer Bady-Dorzhu Ondar and American beatboxer Shodekeh.
That night's recording session represented a culmination of nearly a decade of a mutually enriching partnership between two friends and two musical traditions. Since 2011, Bady and Shodekeh had been exploring ways to combine their distinct yet superbly compatible approaches to music-making. They had appeared together on stage numerous times, and Shodekeh had become a regular visitor to Tuva. Over the years, the two artists continued to learn from each other, stimulate each other, and pursue new possibilities. One result of their long and fruitful collaboration is this live performance of original Tuvan music filtered through the creative musicality of many of Baltimore’s premier artists.
About the Musicians
Bady-Dorzhu Ondar is the founder of this musical feast. Bady has been representing Tuva on stage since 1993, when he was nine years old and toured the US with his mentor, Kongar-ool Ondar. He is a founding member and artistic leader of Alash, has played in the Tuvan National Orchestra since its inception in 2003, was named People’s Khöömeizhi of the Republic of Tuva in 2008 and Distinguished Artist in 2019. He is currently the Director of the International Khöömei Academy in Kyzyl.
As early as 2015 he began exploration collaboration with Shodekeh and other Baltimore musicians as a way of showcasing Tuvan music in a new light. Not only did he choose the repertoire for the evening (exclusively Tuvan music, with the exception of “There’s Only a Moment”), but he also composed the music for several of the songs featured on the evening. Regarding the album, he says, “This album is the product of many years of communication between musicians. Even though we are from different countries and cultures, music has always been the thing that allows us to communicate across borders and languages. It’s been a great honor to develop relationships with Shodekeh and all of our collaborators through the process of creating this album, and I’m deeply grateful to everyone who has helped make it happen. Hope you enjoy it!”
With 34 years of personal, professional and community-based experience, Dominic “Shodekeh” Talifero continues to make musical strides as a groundbreaking and highly adept Beatboxer, Vocal Percussionist and Breath Artist who pushes the boundaries of the human voice within and outside the context of Hip Hop music and culture. He currently serves as Innovator-in-Residence at Towson university, where he was also the first ever Vocal Percussionist to serve as a member of the Dance Faculty. He has collaborated with institutions such as One Beat, Bang on a Can, NASA, the Reginald F. Lewis museum, and others. Shodekeh is also the founder of Embody, a series of all-vocal performances taking place regularly in Baltimore.
Shodekeh first began working with Alash in 2011, and visited Tuva for the first time in 2012 to participate in the 50th birthday festival of Kongar-ool Ondar. Since that time, he has collaborated with Alash on multiple occasions, visited Tuva twice more, and been featured on Alash’s 2014 Smithsonian Folkways album, “Achai.” Over the years he has been a cultural ambassador in many ways, especially helping to introduce US audiences to the music of Tuva, as well as introducing US hip-hop culture and the arts of Vocal percussion to audiences in Tuva. He has been a tireless and stalwart ally for Bady and Alash since day one, and his work not as artists but producer of the album bears witness to this.
Shodekeh says about his experience on the album: “This recording is essentially a 10 year culmination of performances, research and sustained musical ambassadorship between myself, the Alash Ensemble and the Tuvan Cultural Center that began in 2011, and I can't wait for you all to experience the music, essence of life and the many intense global excursions that's captured here.
“Embodiments is the final phase of my 2019–2020 innovation capstone as the first Innovator-in-Residence of the Towson University College of Fine Arts and Communication, and I am more than honored to serve as co-executive producer of this project alongside Bady Dorzhu Ondar and Sean Quirk.
“Bady Dorzhu's sublime and profound vision, level of patience and absolute genius not only as a musician and composer, but as a musical ambassador of Tuvan Khoomei is so awe-inspiring, that it could only be balanced by his humility, generosity and kindness as a human being. Not only is he is one of the best Khöömei / Throat Singers of our generation, but I'm completely convinced that he is also one of the greatest of all time.”
Joyce J. Scott
Baltimore legend and MacArthur fellow Joyce J. Scott is an historian, visual artist, educator, sculptor, weaver, printmaker, singer, performance artist, jeweler, beadworker, glassmaker, and force of nature. Her artworks have been featured around the globe and she has been a frequent collaborator with Bady and Shodekeh during Alash's visits to Baltimore. Her presence on this project is a blessing.
Joyce herself says of this collaboration: “Who would believe a 73 years old African American Baltimore Artist, who sculpts and is a blues singer would one day be embraced by the heart thumping, smooth breezing, throat alchemizing, bad ass Tuvans of Alash. Mesmerized by the invitation to blend my urban Blackness with their Siberian Soul is a revelation. Amen.”
Wendel Patrick is a multitalented artist whose creativity knows no bounds. Equally at home performing on stage with his band, behind two turntables, beatboxing, improvising, or playing a Mozart Concerto on stage with orchestra, Wendel Patrick has toured Europe on several occasions and performed throughout the world with renowned spoken word artist and poet Ursula Rucker. Not only has Wendel been a constant fixture of Alash’s Baltimore performances, as part of the Baltimore Boom Bap society which he cofounded with Erik Spangler, he also took Siberia by storm in 2019 on his visit to Tuva with Shodekeh for Alash’s 20th anniversary. Wendel is also a Professor at the Peabody Institute of Music, where teaches Hip Hop Production and Theory, the first ever course of its kind at a major music conservatory.
Jasmine, like many musicians, fell in love with music in the church, inspired by semi-regular visits by The Fleming Sisters. Listeners find themselves connecting her performances to those of trailblazing black female vocalists such as Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughn, Lauryn Hill, and Me’shell Ndegocello. “I think there is an internal rhythm and spirit that we all have inside, and that’s what brings us together as people.” A frequent contributor to Baltimore Boom Bap and EMBODY performances, she is most well-known as front-woman for “J Pope and the Hear Now,” a musical collective that has frequently toured the US and performed with musicians such as Esperanza Spalding, Robert Randolph, and the Wailers, with the band being called “one of Baltimore’s best kept musical secrets.”
Eze Jackson has traveled the world over, and toured the US opening for such legendary Hip-Hop idols such as Rakim, the Roots, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Beanie Sigel, KRS-One, Cormega, Jay Electronica, and Redman & Method Man, but he keeps coming home to the place he knows best, Baltimore. As a trained actor, Eze was a theater major at the Baltimore School for the Arts and has been involved as “Ezewriter” for a variety of multimedia film, TV, and stage projects. Since 2014, he has released six solo studio albums, three as the frontman of hip=hop collective Soul Cannon, and his is the founder of EPIC FAM (Every Person is Coming From A Memory). Eze is an integral figure in the Baltimore artistic community, as Baltimore Magazine put it, “It’s hard to envision the Baltimore music scene without Eze Jackson.”
Erik, also known as DJ Dubble8, is a composer and electronic musician. Engaged equally with ensemble improvisation, live sample-based mixing, hybrid electronica production, and notated chamber music, Spangler aims to dissolve cultural boundaries while drawing all corners of inspiration into cohesive sound images. Spangler’s compositions have been performed across the United States and internationally from Canada to China, by ensembles including the Atlantic Brass Quintet, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and International Contemporary Ensemble.
Of the evening, Erik says, “This evening felt truly magical in the way that Bady, Shodekeh, and the rest of my friends on stage were able to create a profound musical dialogue in the live moment that transcended geography, ancient and modern influences. The music that we performed could only have happened through a deep trust, and the previous experiences that some of us had in previous years improvising with Bady and the other members of Alash Ensemble when they have come to Baltimore.”
Rafaela is a graduate of the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University. She works in both the Baltimore Chamber Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and is the co-Director of Classical Revolution Baltimore, a chamber music series that organizes performances in non-traditional venues. Rafaela has been featured in the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Magazine, and has presented at TEDxMidAtlantic.