In Memoriam: Eddie Adé Knowles

Professor of Practice, Arts

Eddie Adé Knowles is an accomplished musician with 50 years of performance, residency, workshop, and recording credits as a percussionist. His artistic focus is on African, Afro-Cuban, and New World music and dance. He has performed and/or recorded with the Dinizulu Dancers, Drummers and Singers; Amagagu ka Shaka South African Dance and Music Company; The Simba Dancers and Drummers; Kim & Reggie Harris; Caribe Mambo; Gil-Scott Heron and the Midnight Band; and The Original Last Poets. Ade was also the co-founder and artistic managing director of the Griot Dance Company and The New African Music Collective.

Ade is a past recipient of the prestigious honor of Artist in Residence through the New York State Foundation for the Arts. In 1996, Ade was accepted for a residency in Afro-Cuban Folkloric Music at the Banff Center for the Arts, Alberta Canada. He served for many years as a member of the board of directors of the historic Troy Music Hall, as president, vice president, and chair of the program committee. In 1995, Ade was named as a “Local Hero” by Metroland, a regional arts publication. This honor is “an annual tribute to area residents who make a difference.” Ade is listed in Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who Among Black Americans, and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

Ade received a B.A from Lincoln University (Pennsylvania), M.A. from Columbia University, and Ph.D. from the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University of Albany. In 2011, after 34 years of service at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he vacated the position of Vice President for Student Life and Adjunct Faculty to accept a full-time appointment as Professor of Practice in the Arts. Dr. Knowles has published in scholarly journals and education magazines and teaches “Back to the 60s,” “Introduction to Afro-Cuban Percussion,” and “Roots of Africa Music Ensemble,” a credit-bearing performance class.

In 2004, he founded Ensemble Congeros, a group of Rensselaer alums and current students dedicated to the study and performance of Afro-Cuban, African, and New World percussion. He continues to serve as Artistic Director of the group. Ensemble Congeros was founded as an outgrowth of the interest and passion of Rensselaer students who successfully completed Dr. Knowles’ introductory course. Inspired by the experience, and the window into the social and folkloric religious music of Cuba that it provided, several graduates convinced him to continue to nurture and guide their sustained interest in “chasing the rhythms.” On March 31, 2012, Ade celebrated the commercial release of the group’s first DVD, “Ensemble Congeros: Chasing the Rhythms.” With performances at colleges, universities, festivals, and historic concert halls, Ensemble Congeros continues to be a folkloric work in progress. 


Ph.D., University of Albany

M.A., Columbia University

B.A., Lincoln University