From West Africa to West Mt. Airy with soulful talent

Posted 7/8/20

Outstanding West Mt. Airy soul/jazz singer Elle Gyandoh is a voice teacher for the Chestnut Hill Music Academy. Here she is seen performing at Warmdaddy’s in South Philly before the pandemic. by …

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From West Africa to West Mt. Airy with soulful talent

Posted
Outstanding West Mt. Airy soul/jazz singer Elle Gyandoh is a voice teacher for the Chestnut Hill Music Academy. Here she is seen performing at Warmdaddy’s in South Philly before the pandemic.

by Len Lear

West Mt. Airy resident Elle Gyandoh, who is in her mid-30s, was just a toddler when her family came to the U.S. in the mid-1980s from Ghana in West Africa. Her father, an attorney and law professor, was offered a position as a visiting professor at Temple Law School on an exchange program. The whole family soon followed. Elle attended Cheltenham High School, Temple University and Eastern University Graduate School. She started out singing at open mic nights, sometimes waiting for hours to sing just one song.

In recent years Elle has performed at Bally’s Atlantic City, Dilworth Park in Center City, Warmdaddy’s, Relish, the Philadelphia Art Museum, Doylestown Arts Festival, Haverford Music Festival and Juneteenth Festival in Mt. Airy, just to name a few. She calls herself “a soul singer with jazz and other influences,” and she is on the staff of the Chestnut Hill Music Academy. We interviewed her last week:

•Have you lost any students since the pandemic started, or are you working with all of them remotely?

“I am still working with most of my students remotely; however, about three of them decided to wait until in-person lessons begin again.”

•Did you have to cancel any jobs because of the pandemic?

“Unfortunately, all of my in-person gigs from March through June were cancelled due to the pandemic. Starting this month, a few jobs look like they will be happening live! They will be outdoors, with audience members practicing social distancing.”

•Have you been able to perform on Zoom or another video platform? 

“A few weeks into the pandemic, I was fortunate to be booked for a few Zoom and Facebook Live performances. I performed on a weekly Facebook Live show called, 'The Artist’s Baton.' They feature different musical artists for their weekly shows. The show I performed on was called 'Feel Good Friday', hosted by Kenneth 'Kalah' Higginbotham.” I also did a Virtual First Friday for Phoenixville Summer Concert Music Series, and a few weeks ago, I was interviewed and also performed two songs on a Zoom show called 'The Light Live,' hosted by Raymond Tyler.”

•Did the pandemic also disrupt any planned touring?

“My band, the John Doe Band, and I are planning a small tour for Spring of 2021, so hopefully by then the pandemic will be in our rearview mirror!”

•Do you have any gigs lined up for later this year when playing for live audiences will hopefully again be a reality?

“Right now, I have several gigs lined up for September. A few of them have already been pushed to 2021, but there are still some private gigs and public appearances that I’m hopeful will remain on the books. I also have two in-person gigs this month that are scheduled to take place, so I am very much looking forward to that!”

•Have you recorded any other music since making an EP last August?

“Currently, I am working on new music. I have recorded three demo songs that I’m working on, and I’m looking to put out another CD in 2021 or earlier!”

•What is your ultimate goal in music?

“Ultimately, I would like to release several more albums, tour in other parts of the world and land a collaboration project or performance with some other mainstream artists.”

•If you could be a super-famous person for a week, who would it be and why?

“Maybe someone in the Royal family. It would be cool to see how the Royals live, experience the years-long traditions, meet Queen Elizabeth, maybe even attend a Royal wedding or two!”

•What was the last thing you did for the first time?

“I went to watch the sunrise over the Delaware River under the Ben Franklin Bridge! It was such an awesome experience. I love sunrises and sunsets. Rarely have I been able to intentionally go and catch a sunset, but with some more time on my hands, I made sure to make it happen a few weeks ago!”

•If you could make something vanish forever, what would it be and why?

“I would make hate disappear, specifically hate that is directed at someone based on fear or ignorance. As trite as it may sound, if everyone carried kindness and empathy in their hearts daily, we would all be better off.”

•Looking at the past, what is the thing you miss most and why?

“I miss the days before personal technology overran the world. Don’t get me wrong; technology is a great thing, but I feel that personal relationships and communication with others have been negatively impacted by screens.” •

•If you won lots of money in the lottery, how would you spend it?

“I would first take care of my immediate family, donate to a few causes, open up several creative arts studious for underprivileged children, buy or build my dream home, and then spend six months to one year traveling to all of my 'bucket list' travel destinations!”

For more information, visit ellegyandoh.com. You can reach Len Lear at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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