Morgan Mastiga grew up in Zimbabwe, and he strives to keep the spirit of his home country alive in his life in Columbia. Mastiga does this through music in the group he founded and now directs, Universal Drum Appeal.
The percussion ensemble draws inspiration from traditional African rhythms and is influenced by music from around the world. The other member of the group, Kenneth Logan, is heavily influenced by Afro-Latin beats.
Logan, who goes by the name “Ishtah” on stage, has been with Mastiga from the beginning, when the group was founded in 1993. Universal Drum Appeal has had as many as five members and had three members until December, when Clint Thompson left the state.
“Now we are only two,” said Mastiga, who also hosts “Motherland Jam,” an African music show at 2 p.m. Saturdays on KOPN/89.5 FM.
MU employee Victoria Day has known Mastiga for 10 years. “In the beginning, they had a new song, and when they played it for us, there was no name for it,” Day said. “After they were done I told them, ‘That was pure bliss.’ They said, ‘That’s what we’ll call it. Pure Bliss.’”
Day will perform with the group on Saturday, reciting poetry she wrote. “This is something to get you warmed up,” Day said of the upbeat rhythms.
Universal Drum Appeal, whose motto is “peace and love throughout the world,” sends tickets to children’s charities around Columbia, such as the Rainbow House and Coyote Hill Christian Children’s Home. In performance, the group uses primarily congas, but it also incorporates talking drums, djembes and bongos. During the show, a trademark move is for group members to hand instruments, including cowbells and sticks, to audience members to join in the beat.
“We try to encourage everyone to do it. There’s no right or wrong way,” Mastiga said, his eyes twinkling. “It’s our perfect escape.”