OCEANSIDE — Musician and storyteller Josiah Diallo has shared the history and meaning of the Kwanzaa holiday with many audiences over the years.
The holiday is a cultural African American New Year celebration, which occurs the last week of December. It focuses on living a positive life in the coming year by demonstrating values such as self-determination, creativity, cooperative work and responsibility.
“It’s about love and unity, and honoring the best of ourselves,” Diallo said.
This year he performed at the Oceanside Public Library on Dec. 12.
In his performance he incorporated narrative, poetry, songs, music and audience participation. He also included Swahili words to further connect audience members with African American history.
The lively interactive performance engaged those in attendance with rhythm instruments, repeated phrases and ended with audience members gathered in a circle of unity.
Diallo’s own heritage is African-Cherokee. He grew up in New Orleans where he was surrounded by music that spanned a wide variety of styles and cultural origins.
He has worked as professional musician, singer and songwriter for more than a decade. He is accomplished at piano, drums, flute and percussion instruments.
Diallo began his career as a singer and guitar player performing at coffee shops and restaurants. He later expanded his performances to also include schools, libraries and larger entertainment venues.
“I found the guitar, and I found my voice, and I haven’t stopped playing since,” Diallo said.
In addition to his performance on the message of Kwanzaa, he also gives interactive performances on African American history and plays with an ensemble.