Faculty Spotlight: Joe Sheehan

Joseph SheehanMusicianship Professor Dr. Joe Sheehan is at the forefront of a brand-new album of music rooted in the West African tradition - Songs of Lake Volta. Supported by two Duquesne University grants (2014 Rev. Alphons Loogman, C.S.Sp. Faculty Research Grant from the Center for African Studies and 2015 Presidential Scholarship Award), Songs of Lake Volta was released on August 10, 2018 on Ansonica Recordsand is available on Spotify, Apple Music, and on Amazon in both physical CD and digital download formats.

About the composer:

Sheehan is a composer, pianist, and educator immersed in classical, jazz, and African music. In his work, he aims to connect with musicians and audiences from diverse musical communities and backgrounds. Sheehan's compositions explore the space between classical, jazz, and African music. Each of these traditions has approaches to beauty, sophistication, and wisdom that are different but sympathetic. Sheehan's music investigates and integrates these differences, yielding an aesthetic that is holistic, global, and respectful of tradition. Uniting these influences is an expression of song, or melodic clarity; and dance, or rhythmic vitality, in his work.

To read more about Sheehan, visit his faculty profile page.

Songs of Lake Volta Album CoverAbout the album:

From the Ansonica Records catalog:

Songs of Lake Volta, Joe Sheehan's debut on Ansonica Records, finds the composer and pianist fusing his passion for the music of West Africa, particularly that of Ghana, with his background in both classical chamber music and contemporary jazz. Songs of Lake Volta features nine traditional Ghanian songs surrounded by original music composed by Sheehan, performed by two critically acclaimed groups: Kinetic and Kassia Ensemble.

Media Coverage:

WESA feature


"Songs of Lake Volta draws magnificent connecting threads from classical music and contemporary jazz to the music of West Africa. In another's hands, the attempt to fuse three such fundamentally different forms might produce an unwieldy oil-and-water result; Sheehan, on the other hand, blends classical strings and jazz ensemble playing with nine traditional Ghanaian songs (augmented by original music composed by him) as if it's the most natural thing in the world." "The album's a treat for the ears..." "One of the more appealing dimensions of the album is the songs' tendency to break out into joyful uplift, the music buoyed by soaring melodies and infectious rhythms."

World Music Central.org:

"Superbly crafted..." "Songs of Lake Volta is a fascinating project ..." "The result is a remarkable mix of Ghanaian melodies, contemporary jazz and classical music".


"A set that would not be hurried into existence, it's floats as nicely as the breezes it sonically captures. Feeling like it's an effort that wasn't an effort as it seems to come straight from the heart, contemporary instrumental fans will dig this as easily as world beaters. Solid stuff."


Duquesne University

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