Biography and History of the London Lucumi Choir

The London Lucumi Choir is the FIRST non audition community choir of it’s kind in the world mainly singing Songs dedicated to Orisha accompanied by traditional drumming.

Biography and History: The London Lucumi Choir was formed in November 2006 by Afro Cuban Singer Extraordinaire Martha Galarraga and Musician Daniela Rosselson De Armas and assited by Dave Pattman ( Omo Aña) after many years of running voice workshops dedicated to singing songs for the Orisha.(Yoruba deities) It is the first non audition choir of its kind welcoming members regardless of age. The choir sings songs to the Orisha accompanied by traditional Bata Drums and occasionally other Afro-Cuban Genres, but with original arrangements by MD Daniela. For all of the choir’s accomplishments please visit the https://londonlucumichoir.me/2015/06/30/choir-time-line/

Javier Campos Martinez became the Director of Percussion between 2008 and 2012 and co produced the first album by The Choir.  Javier Campos Martinez is  legal heir apparent of master drummer Regino and also Omo Aña (sacred master drummer) He is the owner of two sets of Fundamento drums. One of which played the first sacred drum in the UK on 09/02/09.  

Gerardo De Armas: spent time with us teaching us Rumba and Palo Songs and features on our first and second CD. Gerardo has sung, toured and recorded with Legendary Groups such Irosso Oba and Yoruba Andabo  and has been in London for ten years, performing Rumba wherever he goes.

Marcos Yosvani Diaz Herrera,  spent 8 months with the Choir as a mentor. He taught us song sequences, licked us into shape and kept our percussionists on their toes.  Known to all as Yosvani, he is better known for his work in Cuban top Rumba Group, Rumberos De Cuba. He is also an Akpwon ( Ceremonial Singer) In the Santeria Tradition and is the owner of two sets of Fundamento Bata Drums.

Choir  members have grown in number and range from 7 years of age to 70. Members come from all walks of life and do not have to audition to join, or be practitioners of the religion although some members are. Over the last 13 years, the Choir has gone from strength to strength. Performing, holding workshops, collaborating with other artists, recording and generally having an awful lot of fun! They have rehearsed mainly in North London.

Over 60 people have come through the doors of the London lucumi Choir, and there is a constant flux of people. Some come back after taking a break and there is always room for new people.

The Choir is a Non Audition Community Choir and is run by a committee of members, The choir is reliant on the voluntary participation of the Director and it’s members. The Percussion section are professionals who have had a lot of experience in this field, and although they participate in rehearsals voluntarily they are booked as professionals for performances and workshops.


DANIELA ROSSELSON DE ARMAS: Founder member MD /lead vocals /arranger


Daniela comes from a musical family and was classically trained. She studied West African percussion in the early 1980’s with Isaac Tagoe from Ghana and then she went to study music  and research for a PhD in the 1980’s in Cuba and fell in love with the variety and wealth of music on the island. This prompted her to form her first Salsa band in 1989 Salsa Y Aché. She has been a musician and singer, writer, and composer on the Cuban Music Scene for over twenty years and was also a dancer. Sue Steward in her book “ Salsa: Musical Heartbeat of Latin America” sites her as the first Salsa dance teacher in England in 1989. Daniela’s involvement as an initiate of the religion Santeria inspired her to hold song for the Orisha workshops with Martha Galarraga. Her knowledge has come from singing in ceremonies in Cuba. In 2010 she spent time in Matanzas learning with Dolores Herrera, Israel Berriel, Maikel Guzmuri Rodriguez; Oscarito Rodriguez Pedroso of the Cabildo Arara Sabalu. She also spent time with Galves and the Cajon Siete Potencias, studying songs from the tradition of Espiritismo of which she also is a practitioner.  She gains a lot of pleasure from teaching the choir and licking them into shape; is passionate about working out harmonies and also teaches people who think they can’t sing.

BILL BLAND:   Bill has played all types of African, Cuban And Brasilian Percussion over the last 25 years and is a highly respected master of all styles of percussion. His passion for Bata and Orisha song is manifested in his generous study groups he has set up in Hackney over many years. He is particularly interested in Matanzas Style Bata Playing.

Bill Bland and David Pattman on Iya and Itotole
Bill Bland and David Pattman on Iya and Itotole



Patrick Cameron: Is an overall percussionist and Is an Experienced Bata player having played for over 30 years. He  has been playing with the London Lucumi Choir for the past year, and regularly plays in a trio with Bill and Lee. 


Lee Crisp

Lee Crisp: Is a percussionist, educator, long time student of Afro Cuban traditions, an original member and batalera for London Lucumi Choir. Lee has toured in the Uk, Europe and Nigeria, played with a diverse range of bands and groups. Pictured with London Afrobeat Collective in Huelva, Spain 2018.




Other Percussionists who have played with the Choir include:

Jim Le Messurier ( from 2008-2018)

David Pattman, founder member and has played with us on occasion from 2007- 2016

Tony Urdaneta ( Union Chapel, La Linea, support for Buika/ Rich Mix 2013 and further gigs)

Gerardo De Armas, who has worked with us periodically between 2009 and 2015 and was our special guest on our Lullaby for Naila launch Gig, May 2016.

Crispin Robinson ( Ethelburgers and Rich Mix 2009/2010)

Raudelis Cisneros ( El Piqui) and Randy Lester ( Various Gigs and recordings between 2012 and 2013)

Omar Marquez ( BBC Choir Competition of the Year and Rhythm Cafe Camden 2010)  

Hammadi Rencurell Valdez  Cuban Multi instrumentalist who has played with us on numerous occasions and recorded with us on our Debut CD. He trained at the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory in Havana and then the ISA ( Superior Arts Institute in Havana). He also is an excellent teacher and has led various workshops in Schools with other members of the London Lucumi Choir

Oli Saville Joins Tony Urdaneta and Hammadi Rencurrel for a rehearsal. Photo Mish Aminoff Moon
Oli Saville Joins Tony Urdaneta and Hammadi Rencurrel for a rehearsal. Photo Mish Aminoff Moon

DANCERS: Dance has always been an important part of pour performance and we have worked with many great dancers. Currently we are working with Yolanda Perez: Yolanda had an amazing training in the Conjunto Folklorico De Cuba, but is a versatile dancer dancing both Traditional and Popular Cuban Dance in addition to contemporary dance.

Yolanda Perez as Oya
Yolanda Perez as Oya

Collaborations: The Choir have worked with dancers, with  story telling and visuals and have collaborated also with Composers. The Choir is always interested in working in new and exciting ways and looks forward to what is in store in the future.

Collaborators and Guests include:

Juwon Ogungbe ( Composer, Musician, Arranger Extraordinaire)

Alicia Bueno Atie ( Guest Dancer Orginally From Raices Profundo)

Lazaro Lopez ( Guest Dancer)

Union Dance for “Time and the Trickster’s Heart” Written By Juwon Ogungbe

Corrine Bougard ( Director Union Dance Company)
Naomi Deira ( Union Dance Company)
Vanessa Abreu ( Union Dance Company)
Kiraly Saint Claire ( Union Dance Company)
Joyce Moholoagae ( Guest Soloist Time and the Trickster)
Nevo Onomuakpokpo ( Guest vocalist Time and the Trickster)
Harriet Shawcross ( Guest Soloist Time and the Trickster)and

Jacob V Joyce Story Teller  for Ghost Hostings and Survival Guides.

Hannah Anderson-Ricketts and Ffion Campbell-Davies dance for Oshun for  Survival Guides.

Ariel Rios Robert ( Rich Mix 2013 dances Elegua)

Idalberto Alcala ( Rich Mix 2012 dances Ogun)