Joel Karabo Elliott


Musical Interludes:
Main Conference

Joel Karabo Elliott grew up in the midwest, in Indiana and Kansas. He started playing piano at the age of 7. His mother recognized his talent and he played Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart & Bach through high school. He picked up the trombone in middle school and through that instrument was exposed to a whole new world of music. Jazz became a portal that exposed Joel to Afro-Cuban-Caribbean-Brazilian influences. Duke Ellington and Thenoius Monk, and Bueno Vista Social Club provided Joel opportunities for imitation and exploration of new sounds. He also picked up the guitar at 19, and this led him to explore folk styles as well as how to sing and put poetry to music.

After graduation from college and a short stay in Washington DC where he pursued public policy, joined the Peace Corps and went to South Africa. Joel described his time there as "where my whole being changed. I was transformed and reborn through living in a small village in Limpopo, learning the language, customs and music. I became part of the community and they taught me indigenous ways of being."

Music in South Africa is a way of life - the basis for all-day long celebrations like weddings and funerals as well as part of everyday chores. Drumming, singing and dancing is a part of the fabric of daily life in South Africa and Joel started traveling all over South Africa playing with different musicians. He formed a group called Roots Grown Deep and lived there for 11 years.



All Sessions by Joel Karabo Elliott