When Africans were uprooted and shipped to the Americas, they brought with them practically none of their material possessions. What they did bring, however, were the cultural foundations which enabled them to recreate a semblance of the life they had known in their home areas. This was especially so for those captives who were settled in the Caribbean and in parts of Central and South America. Because of a social climate that tolerated a degree of cultural expression, Africans in those areas were able to preserve many of their traditions -- notably religious practices and the associated music and dance.
Such was not the case in the United States, where, unfortunately, African cultural manifestations are fast dying out. It was this realization which fueled Eddie Osborne's determination to do his part to ensure that the tenuous cultural link to the ancestral homeland is not severed altogether. To that end, for the past 30-odd years he has offered, along with various co-presenters, lectures on African linguistic retentions in U.S. English, lecture-demonstrations of African and African-American instruments, and instrument-making workshops at schools, festivals, libraries, museums, community centers and other sites in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and beyond.
For a detailed view of such presentations, click on the "Our Offerings" tab above.
My first exposure to folk musical instruments was during my childhood in Georgia, when I would watch my father and friends making and playing nail-keg drums, musical glasses, gutbuckets, washboards, kazoos, and such, at weekend gatherings.
Although I soon began making instruments myself, it wasn't until early adulthood that I actively began to craft traditional African instruments, the techniques having been learned through observation and informal study with fellow crafters in the U.S. and abroad.
My handiwork is similar to that of other artisans in the U.S. in that they share the same broad outlines. Mine differ from that of most, however, in that I make every attempt to adhere to traditional dictates and avoid incorporating such innovations as to render the end product unrecognizable as a traditional instrument.
The following are the settings in which my instruments have been featured: (1) an exhibiton in conjunction with the Africando/Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce symposium "Doing Business in Africa"; (2) "Florida Folklife: Traditional Arts in Contemporary Communities" (a five-city statewide exhibition curated by the Historical Musem of Southern Florida (Miami, FL); (3) an exhibition during a Kwanzaa celebration at the Broward County Main Library (Ft. Lauderdale, FL); (4) a three-month exhibition at Borders Books & Music (Ft. Lauderdale, FL); and (5) the Geechee Kunda Museum & Cultural Center (Riceboro, GA), where my handicrafts are included in the permanent collection. As well, my instruments have been used in live performaces and on recordings by a number of local and nationally known musicians.
In 1997 I was one of six artists statewide selected as "master artists" (mbira virtuoso Jomo Faulks being my apprentice) in the Florida Department of State's Folklife/Folk Arts Apprenticeship program. Additional honors include (1) a Certificate of Appreciation from the U.S. Customs Service (Miami, FL); (2) a Blue Ribbon award from the Georgia Gourd Society Show (Perry, GA); and (3) an Award of Merit from the Fiesta in the Park Art & Craft Show (Orlando, FL).
Memberships: American Gourd Society; Writers Net; Editorial Freelancers Association.