Artist Spotlight: Zorkie Nelson

by Mar 1, 2023Artist Spotlight0 comments

ZORKIE NELSON is a master percussionist, traditional flute player and vocalist specializing in the Ga cultural tradition. Born into a family of musicians in the West African city of Accra, Ghana, Zorkie has studied music since the age of seven. His accomplishments include performing as a part of Wynton Marsalis’ “Congo Square Tour” in 2006, and co-founding and conducting the Pan African Orchestra (PAO) in the 1990’s.

He has been a member of the We Su Ma, Ebaahi-Gbi Ko, his current band Gballoi, Lumei, Eshi Nyomor Mo and Tsui Anaa traditional African music and dance groups touring Denmark, France, Ghana and Japan. He currently resides in Schenectady where he continues to perform and teach his art. He often participates in school programs, assemblies and workshops, both at the K-12 level, and also at the college level.

Zorkie is the nephew of master drummer Yakub Addy, bandleader of Odadaa! and National Heritage Award winner. Zorkie was recruited to become part of Odadaa! and left his native Accra, Ghana about 35 years ago to join this group. Since Yakub’s death, Zorkie has pursued multiple musical endeavors and he is well respected both by the African diasporic community in Albany and by other musicians and musical traditions. He donates his talent for a weekly drumming and dance program at Howe Library in Albany and he is active as a teaching artist at the Hamilton Hill Arts Center, Schenectady.


Zorkie Nelson (right) and his two apprentices in 2021, supported through an apprenticeship grant from the New York State Council on the Arts.