Alpha Clef Project

Alpha Clef Project

 Chicago, Illinois, USA

Alpha Clef Project is a Chicago based band, playing styles such as Soul, R&B, and Reggae. The band features intense vocals of Yaw Agyeman and Khari Lemuel. Although the music conjures up spirits of soul legends past, the sounds of Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Marley can still be heard.


As far as definition goes, the Alpha Clef Project may be classified as a soul/R&B/Reggae group. However, when immersed in their music, more especially at a live performance, one can sense the presence of a vast fusion of ethnic backgrounds and genres that create a universal groove that any heart naturally vibes with. It is no surprise that the multi-ethnic band stems out of different situations and brings their different experiences as individual strands to weave one voice, one sound, one integrated musical experience.
One of the strands of this weave was the African influences of Tom Ogunribido (Bass Guitar). Prior to the actual inception of the group, Tom and Wale Babalola (Keyboards) had performed together locally in the Chicago land area. Most of the music they performed in the early 2000’s were the African based Afrobeat and Highlife. Although this style of music was convenient, the two friends decided to broaden their musical horizon by learning other genres of music. As the musical soul searching journey began, Tom and Wale were geographically separated for a couple of years.
In Mid-2007, Wale and Tom reunited and picked up from where they left off with new found information and inspiration. However, despite the branching out of the duo in musical exploration, the foundational African rhythms still rang true in their playing. As they started recording some of the jam sessions, the idea of the band became more apparent. It was also apparent that the band would be an eclectic fusion of American genres with African influences.
In 2008, many of the jam sessions were recorded, arranged and converted into actual tunes. In December 2008, the band was officially formed and named the Alpha Clef Project (ACP) as a testament of a unique strand of music. Despite the incomplete cast, the vision was still clear. In January 2009, Jake Stimmel (Guitar) was introduced to the band to play for an event with singer Raphael Smith and Whitney Keaton. Right after the show numbers were exchanged and Jake became the guitarist of the Alpha Clef Project.
Due to several uncontrollable events, mainly relocation, Wale and Jake could not continue with the Alpha Clef Project. Prior to his departure, Jake recommended for his replacement, Dave Taylor, a young promising guitarist fresh out of DePaul Jazz School. This addition to the band brought another element of jazz and funk into the ACP fusion. As a replacement for Wale on the keyboards, Tom contacted an old college friend and band leader, Bryan Sims. Within the next couple of months, the band had performed several shows at some of Chicago’s premiere live show venues. Not too long after, Edgar Rodriguez and Myron Cherry were also inducted into the band. But the spot of permanent vocalists was still open until 2011.
"The Ones" is a dynamic and intensely soulful Chicago Duo: Yaw Agyeman and Khari Lemuel. Individually, Khari and Yaw had been working the Chicago Soul scene and each had a name of their own before coming together as a group. Tom met Khari at a performance at "The Shrine" (A local Club in Chicago). Tom met Yaw at his performance at "Close Up 2" (another local jazz club in Chicago). Although met under separate circumstances and independently, Tom had invited both singers to perform at the Afro-Fuzion show at the Wild Hare in November 2010. From the sultry sounds of Yaw to the aching groans of Khari, the duo carried the embodiment of the original vision of the band since its inception. After the performance at the Wild Hare, other dates were set and Alpha Clef Project started working collaboratively with Khari and Yaw.
Although their music conjures up spirits of soul legends past, the musical influences of the Alpha Clef Project extend beyond the soul genre and sounds of Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, Fela Kuti, and Bob marley can still be heard. Khari’s single “send down your love” can be coined as the modern day version of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s going on” and Yaw’s “Rockstar” and “Theif” display the creative fusion of rock, jazz, opera and other genres.
Alpha Clef Project had the opportunity to perform at various venues around the Chicago Land Area such as the Wild Hare, Rumba, Beef & Brandy, Ultra Lounge, Elbo Room & Goose Island Brewery. They also had the distinct pleasure of being the house band for the 2009 Laugh Out Loud Comedy series, 2010 Coming to America Comedy Series, and the 2010 Haiti Relief Benefit Concert. These performances have drawn diverse audiences while cutting against the grain of singular genre performance. The cross-genre show features Yaw and Khari portraying the lyrical dialogue in “Hey Joe” and “Where will you be” and energetic band improvisations over “Thief” and covers such as “Light my Fire” and “Black Betty.”
As the basket is woven into thicker and more elegant designs, the Alpha Clef Project looks to be able to reach out to more of the fans with something different, something with a little more soul. As Khari stated “Soul is not some

Set List

Black Betty (Ram Jam)
Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix)
Hey Joe (Jimi Hendrix)
Light my Fire (The Doors)
Where will you be (ACP Original)
House of Cards (RadioHead)
High and Dry (RadioHead)
Thief (ACP Original)
Driving me Sane (ACP Original)
Soul Rebel (Bob Marley)
Could you be loved (Bob Marley)
I'm Gonna make it (ACP Original)
Under the Bridge (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Happy Feelings (Frankie Beverly and Maze)
I need a hug (ACP Original)
Running Away (Bob Marley)
Kinky Reggae (Bob Marley)
Stir it up (Bob Marley)
3little birds (Bob Marley)
Move on Up (Curtis Mayfield)
I Feel Good (James Brown)