IAM Brings Ben Paulding Into A New Role!

Inspire Arts & Music (IAM) is excited to secure Ben Paulding as our Director of Urban Programing. Ben has been with IAM for four years, teaching and developing the Hyde Park Youth Percussion Ensemble (HYPE) in Hyde Park, MA. Ben will continue teaching HYPE and will now add oversight and coordination between all IAM percussion programs: HYPE, Denney Center Percussion Ensemble, and the newly added Salesian East Boston Boys & Girls Club Percussion Ensemble. Chris Holland says, “Ben has been integral to our outreach and key partnerships. I know this new position at IAM will allow us to develop a curriculum that connects these programs, and will also help us build a concert schedule in collaboration with other programs in Boston. Ben is a dedicated and talented teacher. We are fortunate to bring him on board in this capacity.”

Ben Paulding is an American percussionist who extensively lived in Kumasi, Ghana, drumming on national television, performing for Ghanaian presidents, and playing at ceremonies for the country’s top traditional chiefs and queen-mothers. Ben is an active performer, educator, and researcher in the field of West African music, specializing in royal court music from the Asante tradition of Ghana, and its adaptation to drumset.

In West Africa, Ben had over 200 performances with internationally acclaimed drum and danceensembles including the Centre for National Culture and the Nsuase Kete Group. In the US, Ben is a founding member of Kotoko Brass — a band inspired by the royal court rhythms of Ghana, described by the Boston Globe as “propulsive, infectious party music”. Ben also plays drums/percussion in Air Congo (1960s African classics), the Ahenema Cultural Group (NYC Asante drum/dance troupe), Mohammed Alidu’s Bizung Family Band (Playing for Change Foundation), and serves as Drum Leader for the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society (Boston’s oldest Ghanaian drum/dance group).

Ben Paulding teaches at Brandeis University where he directs the Fafali Ghanaian drum and dance ensemble in the university’s music department. A member of the Vic Firth education team, he directs the Hyde Park Youth Percussion Ensemble under the auspices of Inspire Arts and Music, and teaches at ZUMIX, Boston’s award-winning youth music center (National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award Winner, 2011). Ben has presented workshops at Brandeis University, New England Conservatory, College of the Holy Cross, Percussive Arts Society MA Chapter Day of Percussion, and Marcus Santos’ Grooversity Festival. While living in Ghana in 2012-2014, Ben taught music at Kumasi’s International Community School.

In addition to performance and education, Ben is also actively involved in research and publication on African music. His publications include article “Meter, Feel and Phrasing in West African Bell Patterns: The Example of Asante Kete from Ghana” (African Music, 2017), book chapter “Kete for the International Percussion Community” (in Discourses in African Musicology: A Festschrift in Honor of J.H. Kwabena Nketia, 2015), and article “Kete for Drumset: Left Foot Bell Approach,” (Percussive Arts Society’s Rhythm! Scene, 2014). He has presented his research at conferences including the Northeast Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology (VT, 2017), Analytical Approaches to World Music (NY, 2016), Percussive Arts Society International Convention (TX, 2015), and The Life and Works of Emeritus Professor J.H. Kwabena Nketia at the University of Ghana in 2011. Ben holds his M.A. in ethnomusicology from Tufts University, where he studied with David Locke, worked as a Teaching Assistant to Attah Poku’s Kiniwe ensemble, and wrote his thesis on Asante Kete drumming from Ghana. Ben received his B.A. in World Music from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he studied with Chris Poudrier, Royal Hartigan, Jamie Eckert, and Kwabena Boateng.

You can contact Ben at bpaulding@inspirearts.org. We are always looking for new collaborations and performance opportunities for our performing groups.