Award-winning composer Fred Onovwerosuoke’s diverse background has given rise to a varied compositional style. Born in Ghana to Nigerian parents, Onovwerosuoke grew up in both countries and eventually naturalized in the United States. "FredO", as friends call him, has traveled in more than thirty African countries doing field work and analyzing some of Africa’s abundant music traditions. "I see hidden across Africa a gold-mine of unlimited musical scales and modes, melodic and harmonic traditions, and, yes, rhy-thms - abundant yet largely untapped," says Onovwerosuoke of his dominant influences, and also maintains that "my compositions are informed by my travels around the world, and each piece is harnessed and nurtured by an African sensibility that is unmistakable and genuine." FredO has also traveled extensively in the American Deep South, the Caribbean and South America for comparative research in what he likes to call "traceable musical Africanisms." His influences are wide and varied, and is much at home discussing Handel and Mozart as he is talking about the gonje, mbira, kora, kontingu and balafon riffs, or foremost exponents of African traditional music. In 1994 he founded the St. Louis African Chorus to help nurture African choral music as a mainstream repertoire for performance and education. Today, the organization's mission has broadened to include other art music by composers of African-descent and renamed African Musical Arts Inc.
Onovwerosuoke's works have been featured in audio recordings, films, documentaries and radio, including Robert De Niro's film, The Good Shepherd, William-Chapman Nyaho's CD, ASA and Hymes/Hollister's CD African Art Music for Flute, Hudson/Henderson's CD, Libera, to mention a few. His numerous awards include multiple ASCAP Awards, American Music Center Award, Meet-The-Composer Award, and Brannen-Cooper Brothers Award. His book, Songs of Africa: 22 Pieces for Mixed Choirs published by Oxford University Press quickly became a favorite among choral directors across the globe, leading to the recent publications for upper voices Songs of Africa for Upper Voices Set 1 and Songs of Africa for Upper Voices Set 2. Onovwerosuoke's Twenty-four Studies in African Rhythms (AM Publishers), in two volumes) is one of the most-demanded African-rhythm influenced piano studies known. His Twelve African Songs for Solo Voice & Piano (distributed by AM Publishers) also sets a similar pace, globally. Fred Onovwerosuoke has served as Editor of the Voice of African Music newsletter (ISSN: 1938-2332) since 1993, serves on the boards of various professional bodies and maintains an active schedule as composer, scholar and choral conductor. Email inquiries may be sent to info @ fredomusic dot com
rhythmic language would be worthy of analysis by students of the long
process by which a common African-American language, musical and verbal,
evolved out of the multiplicity of cultures of the enslaved. The overall
effect is kinetic, colorful, and imposing — any symphonic programmer
looking for music that will meet urban constituencies halfway should
hear this disc.
Fred Onovwerosuoke's brief "Fanfare for Strings and Timpani," in its world premiere, was a rousing evocation of a Nigerian war dance, complete with the clanging of machetes -- fortunately only simulated.
The piano lines in [Onovwerosuoke's] songs ("12 African Songs for Solo Voice and Piano,") are lively and catchy - indeed,
though their sources are more exotic than African-American spirituals or Langston
Hughes, FredO's African songs have the
most popular appeal of all the material
on this [Libera, AGCD 2106] recording.
These kinetic pieces [Twenty-four Studies in African Rhythms] easily get under one’s skin and they sound like they are fun to play.