Willson, Brian

Dr. Brian Willson is a professional musician, educator, author, and student of African diaspora heritage in the Americas. He has been authorized by traditional intellectuals as a specialist in the Yoruba system of Ifa (Babalawo). He received his doctoral degree from City University of New York Graduate Center.

As a percussionist/conductor/lecturer he has performed in twenty-eight countries, working with a wide variety of artists including Big Nick Nicholas, Katy Roberts, Morris Lang, Pauline Oliveros, Ivo Perelman, Rasul Siddik, the Mystery Brothers, Salim Washington, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Freddie MacGregor, Gloria Gaynor, and Roberta Flack. He has participated in numerous tours of the Broadway shows A Chorus Line, Evita, and Chess. His work is represented on eighteen recordings, along with DVDs and television specials. He is endorsed by Paiste Cymbals, Evans Drumheads, Lang Percussion, and Regal Tip drumsticks. He and Jay Rosen form the drum duo The Mystery Brothers, with recordings on NOTTWO and CIMP records.

In 2011 was he nominated as a trustee to the Board of Directors of Education Africa, USA, and participated as an adjudicator in the International Marimba Festival in South Africa in 2016.

He recently retired from Brooklyn College after twenty-eight years of service as professor of percussion and director of concerts. He now directs his energies to writing, Ifa studies, family, and musical endeavors. His book, In Search of Ancient Kings, concerning Candomblé communities in Brazil, is published by University Press of Mississippi.