Neil Clarke is a master percussionist of legendary status.
Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvestant in the spring of 1951,
Clarke is internationally acclaimed as a percussionist
who has been involved with traditional African drumming
and the percussive arts for more than half a century.
He performs regularly with and
has had long term musical
relationships with artists such as:
Randy Weston, Harry Belafonte, Dianne Reeves,
Miriam Makeba, and many others..
Neil Clarke has made it his mission to continue the pioneering work
of his mentors and trainers. In honor of that collective of elders
who played a pivotal role in bringing African cultural traditions
to North America,
South America, and the Caribbean
in the late 1950's and early 1960's,
Neil Clarke has helped keep those traditions alive.
In addition to his activities as a professional performer, Chief Baba Neil (as he is now affectionately called),
has been active in arts in education programming
more than four decades as an educator and a consultant. He has conducted artist residencies
and designed programming at all educational levels from elementary and middle school through secondary and college.
Chief Baba Neil has done artist residencies and master classes
at institutions such as Harvard University, Duke University,
Rutgers University, Long Island University (C.W. Post),
University of Hartford, Lewis and Clark College,
and many others.
And over the years he has served as a presenter and consultant
for many of the major cultural institutions in the New York area
including: The Caribbean Cultural Center, the Museum of Natural History, and the Brooklyn Children's Museum, to name a few.
Chief Baba Neil has also been engaged as both
a panel presenter and moderator on subjects
related to the exploration of the history and historical presence
of the African drum in America.
He has been cited in several publications on the subject.
In 2012, he was awarded a grant by the Center for Black Music Research and a Research Fellowship for Archival Research
by the Black Metropolis Research Consortium to further his studies.
Currently, as an adjunct professor
in the music department at the City University of New York (since 2004), Clarke conducts a popular course of his own design
on Traditional African Percussion Ensemble performance and theory..