Storyteller J’miah Nabawi presents . . .

Oya-o! Oya-o! Eje kalo-o-o. Iṣe mbe la ti ṣe-e-e!” sang the children of  Ilé-Ifẹ̀

“. . . our drumming is sweet and the music is good!”


THERE’S RHYTHM IN THE TELLING™ are various interactive, interdisciplinary storytelling  presentations (many not named here) reflective of the “story-dance-musical drama” of Africa and its Diaspora, particularly of Anansesem, the telling of Kwaku Ananse (Anansi/Ananse the spider-man) stories and their supporting recreational folktale songs known as Mmoguo. Mmoguo have been traditionally used as musical interludes and interactive play to move the stories along during Anansesem and to relieve boredom and monotony during long storytelling sessions and  at social gatherings.

WSAV Anchor and Noted Media Personality, Kim Gusby with J’miah Nabawi

Click here to watch the interview

Gankogui (Double Bell/Gong), Axatse (gourd rattles), hand drums and various hand-held percussion instruments, whistles, hand-clapping patterns with dance and creative movement are joined with folk-tale songs, the Mmoguo that prompts the spontaneous creation of a “storytelling ensemble” from the audience with everyone joining in as the stories are told, sung, danced to and drummed during the telling of the tale. This program is also available for all grade levels and has many avenues for meeting National Standards and Strands that teachers may be looking to make connections to through storytelling. (A Teacher’s Guide is available for a few of the programs and will be made available once the artist residency/school visit is underway. The teacher and Mr. Nabawi will then make revisions to the guide to the benefit of the teacher to achieve the desired academic goals.)

Gullah Ghana Geechee Gumbo musical instruments_They passed the hambone.jpg 2 close up

“Storytelling and its accompanying songs represent a family tree—with roots, stems, branches and leaves.  Ananse stories without their corresponding mmoguo are like a dead tree.”  ~ Dr. Kwasi  Aduonum, renowned Ghanaian Ethnomusicologist

“Mmoguo is that rhythmic, musical element during storytelling that moves both the teller and the audience into a communal happening of musical dramatic arts with a collective, creative expression  of hand-clapping, song and dance.” ~ J’miah Nabawi

(See the “Cultural Enrichment” section in “Why Spiders Hide in Corners” by J’miah Nabawi. Now available in French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese)


THERE’S RHYTHM IN THE TELLING™ connects with                                 DRUM-TALK DRUMS!™  and has been adapted for musical therapeutic arts programs for local Mental Health agencies and Mental Health symposiums and conferences. Read one of several studies and reports about the health benefits of drumming on the brain. Drumming for Health_A Report



Drum-Talk Drums™

Drum-Talk Drums™ is an experiential, group drumming activity that encourages a community spirit of friendship and cooperation. With rhythm and music-making at the core, Drum-Talk Drums™ program aligns itself with scientific investigations that have shown that drumming enhances the immune system, relieves stress, engages self-expression and well-being.
Through the use of a variety of drums and hand-held percussive instruments, participants get to share in a multicultural experience of music, language, literature, support and self-discovery. The group will also work towards presenting the ensemble of Drum-Talk Drums participants as rhythmic accompaniment to poetry and a traditional Akan (Ghana) drum poem written for drum orchestras.


DRUM-TALK DRUMS!™ was conceived by J’miah Nabawi and developed and presented with Dr. Taffey Cunnien (LPC, NCC, CPCS) at Savannah College of Art and Design’s (SCAD) under the auspices of Counseling and Student Support Services (CS3) in 2008.

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 Drum-Talk Drums!™ has presented drum-circle gatherings at various times and locations throughout SCAD’s urban campus in Savannah, GA to provide fun, up-beat social gatherings and as positive stress release activity during mid-terms and finals. It was a big hit at one of SCAD’s “Midnight Breakfasts.”

Consider Drum-Talk Drums!™ for cultural enrichment programs, family reunion activities and corporate gatherings and meetings that may focus on team-building.

The following program offerings listed here will also make the necessary “Standards” connections. Teacher and Artist will do the initial conferencing to discuss the needs of the classroom and teacher to better direct the supplemental information, activities and culminating experience in performance.


Utilizing live recordings as examples, we re-tell selected folktales and musicalize them into song


Vocalese, Please!
Vocalese is the practice of writing and adding words to established instrumental jazz melodies, improvised melodies or improvised jazz solos. With some background history, leading vocalese singers and listening samples, participants will practice at writing lyrics for instrumental jazz tunes, riff lines and solos.
A fictional character, Skat Skadoodle, takes on the role of the MC/Show Host where time and planning may permit for a public or school-wide assembly and presentation of students’ work.

“Miles Davis walked off the stage. So WHAT!” ~ Eddie Jefferson







 Close Up Gullah Geechee StryNet

(Craft-making, Language and Storytelling)


Gullah, Ghana, Geechee, Gumbo!™

(African words, no mumble jummble!)

An introduction to Gullah-Geechee history, food-ways, folktales and language.

An easy connect to Georgia Standards on history, social studies, literature, language and . . . food!

Introduced by the story, NahNah Binyah’s Talking Sweet Potatoes.

 Dem chillun binnuh nyam all we sweet tatuh pie and gumbo!  




WOOD Makes Music!™

Arts Integration to make Standards connections to Math Sciences and Biology.

Learn more about WOOD Makes Music! clicking on this hyperlink.


Storybooks Alive!

(A Readers Theater Happening)


(Zora Neale Hurston)


“J’miah’s understanding of all things Zora and his infectious storytelling style are a treat for listeners and readers of all ages. J’miah reworks Zora’s philosphy and presents her thoughts in a new light that captivates those already familiar with the writings of Zora Neale Hurston. For those kids who have not yet discovered Zora Neale Hurston, J’miah ushers them into a fabulous world filled with rhythm and contagious laughter with a healthy dose of love and wisdom. Zora Neale Hurston and J’miah Nabawi are great for your mind and soul!”

— Julie Bascom, Youth Services Director, Hilton Head Branch Public Library, Hilton Head Island, SC

Storyteller J'miah



For more information and questions about any of the programs listed above and/or collaborating on a Teacher’s Guide,

please email direct inquiries to J’miah Nabawi: