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Valerie Dee Naranjo
Saturday Night Live Band / Marimba Soloist - United States


Percussionist, vocalist, composer Valerie Dee Naranjo, known for her pioneering efforts on West African keyboard percussion is a Coloradoan of Ute (Native American) descent. In 1988 her playing of the traditional repertoire of the gyil (West African solo marimba) led to the declaration of a chiefly decree in the Dagara nation that women be allowed to play the instrument for the first time. In 1996 she took a "First Place" in Ghana's Kobine Traditional Festival gyil competition, currently the only non West African to have done so.
She plays percussion and arranges for the Saturday Night Live Band and has recorded and performed with Broadway's The Lion King, The Philip Glass Ensemble, David Byrne, The Paul Winter Consort, Tori Amos, Airto Moreira,
and the international percussion ensemble, MEGADRUMS, which includes Milton Cardona, Zakir Hussein, and Glen Velez. Recent film score recordings include "Final Fantasy - The Dream Within" and "Frida". Her work and music have been written about in Modern Drummer, Drum!, Rhythm, Percussive Notes, Percussion News, and World Percussion Rhythm. She has recorded several CDs of traditional gyil music with Kakraba Lobi and Barry Olsen, and the CD Zie Mwea (Natural Conditions) with Bernard Woma. Her solo Native American CD Orenda (Music to Heal the Spirit) is on the Ellipsis Arts Label, and her series of nine written transcriptions and CD, West African Music for the Marimba Soloist, is published by Mandara Music.

Ms. Naranjo holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in music education
performance and ethnomusicology, and has apprenticed with some of America's and West Africa's strictest master percussionists, including Leigh Howard Stevens, Gordon Stout, Dave Samuels, Ladji Kamara, Godwin Agbeli, and Adama Drame. She continues to spend summers in Ghana to further her gyil study with Maestro Kakraba Lobi.

On six continents Valerie is a clinician for Pearl Corporation and Adams Musical Instruments, Zildjian, and Vic Firth.


NEWS and EVENTS for Valerie Dee Naranjo

Valerie Naranjo presents Clinic at 2nd Annual NYU Broadway Percussion Seminar

Valerie Naranjo presented a clinic/masterclass at the Second Annual NYU Broadway Percussion Seminar/Summit in June of 2008. This unique seminar also happens to be the first of its kind. The week was devoted to exploring the life of a Broadway percussionist. It involved everything from getting the gig to playing the show.

Valerie's clinic went far beyond a typical clinic of this seminar. She presented a wealth of information on traditional African music and drumming as well as on the gyil. Also, her performances were captivating and served as inspiration for everyone in attendance. Her special treatment of the clinic was especially evident during the part on The Lion King. Not only did she give first-class attention to each student that participated, but she also invited some of her fellow colleagues from The Lion King to play along with the students. The collaboration between the students, Valerie and her colleagues from the pit was a highlight of the seminar.

Valerie's words and wisdom, like her performances, provided inspiration for everyone involved.