Abdul Hakeem (guitar and vocals)
Abdul, a Chicago native, is recognized as perhaps the busiest reggae and funk guitarist in the Chicago area. He has worked with such greats as Sly & Robbie, Herbie Hancock, Bill Laswell, and has performed with Hassan Hakmoun. Recently, Abdul performed with Phillip Glass in conjunction with Vanessa Redgrave in Kosovo as part of a United Nations movement promoting peace and unity in the region. Some of the artists and projects Abdul has worked with include: Kwame and WAN Africa; Muso Suso (Gambia); Skopie Macedonia.
Carlos Cornier (congas and percussion)
Carlos is a New York-born Puerto Rican musician who has studied and performed many Latin rhythmic traditions, and has been a member of the all-percussion ensemble, Primal Connection, and more recently, Sabu and Picante. He is an award-winning documentary film-maker, and writes for World Percussion and Rhythm magazine. Carlos also is a gifted educator on Latin/Caribbean drumming, and is an instructor at the Old Town School of Folk Music.
Inder Paul Singh (keyboards and vocals)
Inder is an American-born Indian who has pursued the study of funk, bhangra, and hip-hop music. Inder is an accomplished keyboardist who is also a respected composer, producer, bhangra/hip-hop re-mixer, and DJ. Inder also has completed his doctoral degree in the field of Medicine, practicing as an ophthalmologist, specializing in glaucoma surgery.
Kwame Steve Cobb (drum kit, djembe, vocals, and percussion)
For more than a decade Kwame has honed his musical skills while sharing stages with well known recording artists Lou Rawls, Ramsey Lewis, Stanley Turrentine, Anita Baker, Roy Ayers, Peabo Bryson and many others. Kwame and Chavunduka, a dynamic husband and wife team, work closely with youth in workshops and seminars, sharing unique insights into the popular culture, particularly music and its impact on the social, economic and political lives of our communities.
Lloyd King (flutes, saxophone, and vocals)
In addition to Funkadesi, Lloyd performs with the Soulbillys, the Sun Ensemble and the Chicago Jazz Composers Collective. He is also a prolific songwriter. His awards include an NEA fellowship in jazz, an Illinois Arts Council fellowship for composition, and a Joseph Jefferson award for his score to Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Macbeth. After gaining recognition for his broadcast project, The Obscure News, he was hired to help Chicago Public Radio start their broadcast initiative, Vocalo.org.
Maninderpal Singh (tablas, dhol, percussion, trombone, vocals)
Born in Punjab, and raised in Canada, Maninder is an accompanist/soloist for Hindustani classical, folk, Carnatic, ghazal, and classical dance. Maninder has studied with tabla masters including Zakir Hussain, Samar Saha, Shyam Kane, and Arshid Sayed. He has performed with a variety of musicians, including Buddha Dev Dasgupta and Fareed Haque. Maninder also accompanied a traditional Sikh music group (jatha) from Toronto who have released a CD of devotional hymns (Shabad Kirtan) from the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh scripture). It also contains translations of the message of the Guru in English.
Pavithra (vocals and percussion)
Hailing from Southern India (Tamil Nadu), Pavithra has been performing throughout the United States specializing in Bollywood and Bhangra music. She sings in many languages (Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, English, and Punjabi). Pavithra is also trained in Indian classical dance (Bharathanatyam). Her performances are infectious, as she electrifies crowds with her unique style of fusion, including her ability to deliver Tamil rap style with incredible speed and rhythmic precision.
Rahul Sharma (founder; bass guitar, sitar)
Rahul was born in the U.S. shortly after his parents emigrated from Kenya. He has performed blues, funk, and reggae for many years. He has more recently studied sitar and tabla, studying with Zakir Hussain and the Ali Akbar Khan School of Music. Rahul has also completed his doctorate in Clinical Psychology, specializing in Intercultural Psychology. He currently is Assistant Professor and Diversity Concentration Coordinator at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, Chicago.
Rich Conti (vibes and percussion)
Rich is a healer (by day, a physical therapist for children and adults with developmental disabilities) whose vibes bring an energy to Funkadesi in more than just a musical way. Rich has played percussion in ensembles all around Chicagoland including Primal Connection, Mambo Express, the U of C Javanese Gamelon Ensemble, and Picante. He received a degree in Music at SUNY at Fredonia, studied at the Bloom School of Jazz, and traveled to Brazil to learn percussion. Rich’s artistic design and photography can be seen on Funkadesi’s latest CD, Yo Baba.
Valroy Dawkins (vocals and percussion)
Born and raised in Jamaica, Valroy is an accomplished singer and songwriter who has performed over the last 18 years. Valroy is also principal dancer with the West Indian Folk Dance Company. He has also trained in West African dance. He recently has traveled to West Africa and Brazil with the African-based drum ensemble SPIRITS.