Leana Song

Leana Song

 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Leana Song is from Philly, yet their music is a mixture of the Yoruban World in the Americas. With electric guitars, Bata drums and electric bass and big coros they sing songs to the Orishas with a sense of grace that is highly musical. Music for nature, music for dance. Music for our world!


In the Aburi rainforest in Ghana in 2003, I was taught of strength and unity through music. There is a vine, Liana, which grows from tree to tree, holding the forest together through all of nature’s changing moods. These vines form a net, which hovers 20 or so feet above ground level. Monkeys and other adventurous life forms often jump from great heights only to land comfortably in this net of vines. Liana can become so heavy, that it pulls down older and weaker trees, constantly catalyzing new life in the rain forest. For the Ghanaian people, Liana has been a symbol of strength and unity, across a great network of life.
Joe Galeota brought me to Ghana in 2003 as part of his annual trip to experience Ewe music, dance and culture. We studied at the Dagbe Cultural Center with the Agbeli family in Kopeiya, a village in the southeastern Volta region. We were introduced to the ancestors of the Agbeli family and their land. We studied with master drummer Emmanuel Agbeli and lead dancer Victor Agbeli. While in Ghana we also had the privilege to study at the Dargara Bewaa Cultural Center, outside of Accra. This is the house of master xylophonist Bernard Woma. We studied the Gyil, a fourteen keyed balafon made from completely organic materials. The Gyil appears once on this record in the “Todjo Suite”. It was at Bernard’s house where I began to arrange traditional Gyil music for the guitar.
Upon returning to Philadelphia I continued to study and arrange what I had learned. In the blossoming Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, I began to teach this music, holding weekly workshops for free. This naturally grew into a bi-weekly happening where the communal traditions of Ewe social music were performed. This ensemble became the group Leana Song.
The way we spell Leana, was the way I pictured the word. Though traditionally spelled ‘Liana’, ‘Leana’ has meaning when you split the letters apart. Le, a term used for the raffia leggings worn by adjogbo (adzohu) dancers, and Aña, coming from the batá tradition and referring to the spirit within the drum. This works well because Ewe music brought Leana Song together and batá music has sustained us. This first volume of Orisha Love Songs, primarily has arrangements of Cuban Lucumí songs, with three arrangements of Ewe music. We look forward to creating the next volume of Orisha Love Songs, and we thank you for your support of our work. Ashe Moyuba.
Shawn Hennessey- Director - Leana Song


Orisha Love Songs Vol.1 (2008)

We are on Pandora!

88.5 WXPN Philadelphia
90.1 FM Temple Radio
88.9 WERS Boston

Set List