Artist Statement

Mausiki Scales and the Common Ground Collective and local Wordsmiths of the West End seek to bring Storytelling, Poetry and Live Jazz to Atlanta online. View the virtual performance here. Nommo engaged attendees in an immersive experience of poetry, storytelling and testifying centered on the rich history of African and Africans in America, specifically highlighting the history and culture of Atlanta’s West End.

Invoking music and poetry in the tradition of the Black Arts Movement ranging from 60s ensembles and poets like The Last Poets, Haki Madhubuti, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka to more recent artists, like Outkast, Jessica Care-Moore and Kendrick Lamar, Nommo will feature local talent such as Sherry J. Williams, Opal Moore, Aziza Afi, Kenneth Zakee, Corey Cokes, Felton Eady and other members of the collective Poetry Kitchen.


Artist Bio

The Common Ground Collective is a fifteen-piece band that explores musical styles from West Africa, including afrobeat and funk. Common Ground explores the musical thread that links the music of the African Diaspora. Afrobeat is a musical style created by Nigerian multi-instrumentalist Fela Kuti. This style of music is characterized by highly energetic-endless grooves by the rhythm section with percussive roots that are found in traditional African music, highlife and James Brown-inspired funk; a dynamic horn section that features tight/hot/percussive lines and improvisational jazz solos; call-and-response chants delivered by the lead and background vocalists; African dancers. Common Ground’s Musical Director is Mausiki Scales, who also serves as keyboardist for the group. Common Ground is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Mausiki Scales and Common Ground are known for their musical collaborations with Roy Ayers, Les, Nubians, Julie Dexter, Avery Sunshine, Valencia Robinson and Sandra Isadore.

Mausiki Scales has been a force in the Atlanta indie music scene for almost two decades as a sought-after keyboardist and founder/musical director of the critically acclaimed ensemble, The Common Ground Collective. A recipient of the 2015 Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities, Mausiki is also a folklorist and historian who translates his knowledge into musical arrangements that leave his audiences moved and moving…literally. Whether performing as a trio or a full ten-member-plus ensemble, Mausiki Scales and the Common Ground Collective are known for taking fans on a fearless exploration of the pulsating rhythms of the African Diaspora, seamlessly connecting the dots between afrobeat, funk, hip hop, soul and New Orleans jazz…in a single performance. They have performed in numerous celebrations, concerts, and special events throughout Africa and the Americas, including Ghana’s Golden Anniversary Celebration, the National Black Arts Festival, Funk Jazz Café, and the Atlanta Jazz Festival. They have also collaborated with artists such as Roy Ayers, Babatunde Olatunji, Stevie Wonder, The Last Poets, Third World, Russell Gunn, and Julie Dexter.

Together, Mausiki Scales and the Common Ground Collective have released four albums, the most recent, Passages: The Water Brought Us, and they were recently featured on the Roy Ayers Fela-fied afrobeat version of “Everybody Loves the Sunshine.” In the Fall, a new Mausiki Scales project, “Drums and Shadows” was released, featuring the juke joint-invoking single, “No Tables, No Chairs” inspired by the parade and concert on the Atlanta Beltline. Up next is a full album collaboration is in the works with Roy Ayers.

Get directions to this art piece

Westside Park, 2nd entrance