Ben Paulding is an American percussionist who extensively lived in Kumasi, Ghana, drumming on national television for the Ghanaian President and the country’s top traditional chiefs and queen-mothers. In West Africa, Ben had over 200 performances with internationally acclaimed drum and dance ensembles including the Centre for National Culture, the Ashanti King’s Fontomfrom Ensemble, and the Nsuase Kete Group. Also immersed in study, he spent two years apprenticing in Ashanti drumming under royal musician Emmanuel Attah Poku. Ben has pioneered the adaptation of Kete rhythms onto the drumset, and worked Attah Poku to create an original arrangement of Kete for drumset and traditional percussion.
In the US, Ben is the Drum Leader of David Locke and Attah Poku’s Agbekor Drum and Dance Society, Boston’s oldest Ghanaian drum and dance group. Ben has played drumset and percussion with Jerry Leake’s Cubist world/rock/fusion band, Marcus Santos’ Bloco AfroBrazil, Mohammad Alidu’s Bizung Family Band, and with contemporary jazz pianist Kelly Sciandra (CandyRat Records).
Ben Paulding currently directs the Fafali Ghanaian music ensemble at Brandeis University. A member of the Vic Firth education team, he has previously taught at the International Community School in Kumasi, Ghana, as well at ZUMIX, Boston’s award-winning youth music center (National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award Winner, 2011). Ben has presented workshops at New England Conservatory, Percussive Arts Society MA Chapter Day of Percussion, and Marcus Santos’ Grooversity Festival.
In addition to performance and education, Ben Paulding is also actively involved in research and publication on African music. He recently wrote “Kete for Drumset: Left Foot Bell Approach,” which was published in the August 2014 edition of the Percussive Arts Society’s Rhythm! Scene. His paper, “Kete for the International Percussion Community,” which he presented at a 2011 University of Ghana conference, is scheduled for publication in an upcoming Festschrift (University of Michigan/University of Ghana) for renowned African ethnomusicologist J.H. Kwabena Nketia.
Ben received his B.A. in Music from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he studied with Chris Poudrier, royal hartigan, Jamie Eckert, and Kwabena Boateng. He is currently pursuing his M.A. from Tufts University, where he studies with David Locke and works as a Teaching Assistant to Attah Poku’s Kiniwe ensemble.