I had the opportunity to attend the Berkeley Architectural History Association’s annual building tour, this year at Bernard Maybeck’s Rose Walk.

In the John Galen Howard house, built by the architect who designed the Campanile and a large part of the UC Berkeley Campus, composer and pianist Mammi-Ama Ofori did a version of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” immortalized for millenials in the 1996 Pixar classic Toy Story.

Ofori’s parents, Kofi and Adwoa, flew to the United States in 1969 from Ghana, settling in Springfield, Massachusetts, where Ofori and her two sisters were born.

A major influence on the early life of the artist was her obligation to care for her younger sister, who has a rare form of autism. “Dufie taught me to communicate in a way that goes beyond verbal language,” Ofori said after a performance at The Point at Rockridge, a senior living facility in Oakland.

Ofori performs at cafes, restaurants, hotels and art spaces across the country, and she loves to spend time in the East Bay. She uses a special symbol in her logo, which means ‘wisdom’ in the ancient Adinkra symbology of her culture.

Follow her on social media and at her website, http://www.mammiama.com.


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