Leon Mobley
Da Lion
Country of Residence:
United States

Leon began to play African drum rhythms in 1967 and studied for ten years with Nigerian master drummer Babatunde Olatunji at the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts. Leon has had theatrical training and appeared regularly on the PBS daily television show Zoom. He is an accomplished musician and performs regularly in numerous musical genres including jazz, reggae, and rock. Leon has appeared on the works of many recording artists and has self-produced four CDs and cassette tapes of djembe rhythms and songs.

In 1977 Leon studied under the directorship of Senegalese master drummer Ibrahim Camara (former drummer for the National Ballet of Senegal) while a member of the Bokan-Deye Dance Company.

Leon studied and performed from 1979 to 1981 in Surinam, South America and Trinidad Tobago, and the West Indies. He continued his studies during 1982 in Senegal and Gambia. In 1987 and 1992 he traveled to Japan, where he taught and performed West African Drumming and Dancing. While in Japan he visited Sado Island, home of Kodo, the internationally acclaimed percussion group, in a cultural exchange program. He traveled to South Africa in 1991-1992 where he performed with returning exiles Letta Mbulu, Caiphus Semenya, and Hugh Masekela. From 1993 until 1997, Leon toured the world with Ben Harper. He was also in Germany, Italy, and Israel producing, recording, and conducting clinics on his own.

Leon has a great deal of experience teaching African drum rhythms. While in Boston he taught at community centers, conducted school tours with the Art of Black Dance and Music, and conducted workshops at Berklee College of Music. He became musical director at Paige Academy, a private school in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Leon continued teaching after moving to Los Angeles in 1986. He conducted weekly classes at UCLA, Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Theater, Parks and Recreation, and the Los Angeles High School for the Arts on the campus of Cal State (Los Angeles).

Mobley is the founder and artistic and musical director of Da Lion and Djimbe West African Drummers and Dancers. He founded these two groups in order to help preserve African cultures, and present authentic traditional West African-American dance and music. Through these two groups, Leon continues his mission of educating others about the West African people, their customs, history, and cultural arts as well as their influence and ties with people in the USA.

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