Interviewed at Ohio University, Athens Sandra Grady
1 May 2011

Paschal Yao Younge was born into an ethnic Ewe family from Ghana with a tradition of being musicians and dancers. In addition to his traditional background, Younge’s father was a church organist who worked at integrating drums into the Catholic liturgy, and brought western instruments into his home. As a result, Younge grew up with instruction in both types of music, and performed in brass bands, church choirs, and drumming and dance groups. He had no master teacher, but absorbed what he could from his father and other members of the community.

He earned a diploma in music education with honors from the National Academy of Music, Winneba (now University of Education) which focused on African music and brass instruments. While there, he also composed a wind symphony. At the University of Ghana, he did a two year advanced diploma with distinction in Ethnomusicology with emphasis on African music. Because of the quality of his studies, he was hired to teach there, which he did while directing brass bands in the area, Africanizing their repertoire by including traditional songs and drums in their arrangements. One of his groups, Abor Brass Band, won a National Championship and another, Aflao, toured in Sweden.

While at the University of Ghana, Younge worked with international students and their home faculty, and was consequently recruited to the University of West Virginia to do his Masters in Music (MM) and Doctorate in Education- Curriculum and Instruction). He had considerable success as a teacher and musical director there, and in 1998, his WVU African Ensemble performed for the President of Ghana when he visited Pittsburgh. By 2003, Younge was directing the World Music Center at WVU, traveling worldwide to consult on African music and world percussion, and teaching highly popular classes in African Music and Dance at WVU. In 2000, he married a Ghanaian-Canadian-American dancer, Dr. Zelma Badu-Younge, who was hired to teach at Ohio University. After a few years of commuting between the two schools, Young moved to Ohio University where he teaches classes in World Music and African Music and directs an international touring African dance-drumming ensemble, Azaguno, which he founded with his wife. Younge also conducts a yearly international education summer program, African Culture through the Arts, for Ohio University in Ghana.

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