World Beat

Local musicians link listeners of all ages to the pulse of other cultures.
CK Shango

A Kalamazoo-based music therapist and percussionist, Carolyn Koebel (above)recently introduced the Michigan Global Roots Music Festival, a three-city concept in Lansing, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. 

“It’s a challenge to find family-friendly programming that’s not something parents are forced to tolerate — they like music that’s interesting,” Koebel says. “There’s a lot of instrumental and a lot of world influence that lets kids feel free to jump up and down — a very melodic, rhythmic cultural perspective where dance is the human response.”

The breadth of this musical selection comes from her own interests and studies, education and philosophy.

Mark Stone Trio on stage
Courtesy Mark Stone

“It’s a specific instrument and vocabulary that varies widely from one culture to the next,” she explains. “Music changes as it travels, as it crosses the ocean from (one epicenter in Nigeria) and reappears in Brazil…to the Bronx. There are all different gateways and ports of arrival. You can listen to it and hear those roots and identify a connective tissue.” 

The local response has been incredibly positive, Koebel notes. “People recognize the deep lineage behind the music.”

“We live in such a globalized community,” reflects fellow musician Mark Stone, associate professor of world music and percussion at Oakland University. “We have all the information right at our disposal on the Internet, but without experiencing the music, art or cuisine, we don’t make those deeper connections,” he says. “Interacting with music and musicians from other parts of the world, you (do).

Mark Stone Trio
Mark Stone Trio – Courtesy Mark Stone

“I am very fortunate to travel a lot, but not everyone has the opportunity or resources to go to South America or India. What Carol and I are doing here in Michigan is giving people that experience in a two-hour concert.”

Though the Michigan Global Roots Music Festival is held in February, the Mark Stone Trio (above) will showcase celebrated world percussion traditions of Africa and India merged with lyrical violin at CD release concerts on Oct. 9 at Oakland University Varner Recital Hall and on Oct. 10 at The Carr Center 

Meanwhile, Koebel is in collaboration with Ferris State University on “Music on the Muskegon,” a celebration of art, culture and community,” an upcoming fall event scheduled to be held at Hemlock Park in Big Rapids on Oct. 3.

Learn more at, and 

  Jeanine Matlow, Michigan BLUE Magazine 

Photography courtesy carolyn Koebel

Photography courtesy Mark Stone

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