Published: June 12, 2013
By: Donna Armstrong

Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje speaking at a reception in her honor.
Photo: Daniel Neuman, 2013.

At the end of June 2013, professor and former chair of the Department of Ethnomusicology Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje will retire from UCLA after thirty-four years of teaching and research.  In honor of her contributions, the department held a reception on Thursday, May 23, 2013 on the Schoenberg patio.  The event included a number of speeches as well as high-energy performances by members of the African American Ensemble, the Music and Dance of West Africa Ensemble, and a xylophone solo by S.K. Kakraba Lobi (son of the venerable master).

Speakers included Christopher Waterman, Dean of the School of the Arts and Architecture; Tim Rice, Director of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music; Darnell Hunt, Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies; Edmond Keller, Former Director of the James S. Coleman African Studies Center; Marla Berns, Director of the Fowler Museum at UCLA; Aaron Bittel and Maureen Russell, Archivists, UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive.

Current graduate students Jesse Ruskin (Ph.D. ’13), Eric Schmidt, and Katie Stuffelbeam also spoke.  Kimasi Browne (Ph.D. ’05) a former student and co-editor with Jean Kidula (Ph.D. ‘98) of a festschrift in DjeDje’s honor, spoke movingly about DjeDje’s influence on him and his fellow Ph.D. students.

There were also soul-stirring performances, first by approximately fifty members of the African American Ensemble, directed by James Roberson and Jonli Tunstal, with piano accompaniment by Barry Brewer. The group sang the Negro spiritual "I Opened My Mouth to the Lord,” gospel favorite “I Shall Wear a Crown,” and a praise and worship song "We Worship You." Next, members of the West African Ensemble performed Bamaya, a harvest festival dance, with dancers Yeko Ladzekpo-Cole and Jun Reichl, and drummers Andrew Grueschow, Justin Bardales, Neili Sutker, and Derrick Spiva Jr.

Ensemble director Kobla Ladzekpo rounded out the program by reciting a song/poem in the Ewe language: “We don’t have anything to offer you/but we do have a song/because ‘fowl never thank a rubbish dump.’” The song could be loosely translated as: “you can’t thank someone who has done so much for you; you can’t even thank them enough.” Those were fitting concluding words.

For more information: "Highlights from the Ethnomusicology Archive: The Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje Collections," by Maureen Russell.

djedje_and_hunt africanists_apter_djedje_keller_lofchie_schuh  
Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje and Darnell Hunt. Photo: Daniel
Neuman, 2013.
The Africanists: Andrew Apter, J.C. DjeDje, Edmond Keller,
Michael Lofchie, Russell Schuh. Photo: Donna Armstrong
s_k_kakraba_lobi1 david  
S. K. Kakraba Lobi. David Martinelli. Photo: Daniel Neuman, 2013  
berns kimasi3  
Marla Berns. Photo: Daniel Neuman, 2013. Kimasi Browne. Photo: Daniel Neuman, 2013.  
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Members of the African American Ensemble. Photo: Daniel
Neuman, 2013.
Maureen Russell. Photo: Daniel Neuman, 2013.  
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Members of the West Africa Ensemble perform. Photo:
Daniel Neuman, 2013.
Photo: Daniel Neuman, 2013.  
west_african_ensemble6 kobla_and_yeko_dancing  
Jun Reichl performs with other members of the West
Africa Ensemble.
Kobla Ladzekpo and Yeko Ladzekpo-Cole dance. Photo:
Daniel Neuman, 2013.
jihad_racy djedje_keller_and_rice  
Professor A.J. Racy. Photo: Daniel Neuman, 2013. Edmond Keller, J.C. DjeDje, and Tim Rice.
Photo: Donna Armstrong, 2013.
djedje_and_li djedje_and_kobla_ladzekpo  
J.C. DjeDje and Chi Li. J. C. DjeDje and Kobla Ladzekpo. Photo: Donna
Armstrong, 2013.