Valerie Dee Naranjo
The Lion King / Saturday Night Live Band
To say that Valerie Dee Naranjo has thus far blazed a number of amazing trails would be a complete understatement. For 26 years she has had the only permanent percussion chair in the house band for NBC’s iconic Saturday Night Live Band. She was the first musician hired, plays marimba and two dozen other instruments, and wrote percussion arrangements for the Broadway hit The Lion King. She broke the the ban on women playing gyil publicly in Ghana, forever changing the relationship of women to that instrument. She and Kakraba Lobi (Ghana’s National Dance Company’s founding gyil master) wrote the only extensive series of transcriptions of gyil music for marimba solo, bringing a better understanding of the marimba’s origin and spiritual side. She was the first to produce gyil solo concerti with wind ensemble and orchestra, and the only to date to perform a series of them with Ghana's National Symphony Orchestra. She teaches gyil at the New York University at the professional level. Valerie Dee Naranjo is a true “world” percussionist, having performed on six continents, and having used her talents to serve indigenous musicians and music during the past three and a half decades.