Gibraltar World Music Festival 2017 – Bassekou Kouyate

Gibraltar World Music Festival 2017 – Uprising


Bassekou Kouyate @ Federico PedrottiThis famous musician was born on the 7 August 1966 in Garana, a small and multi-ethnic village 60 km from Segu located at the banks of the Niger river. Garana is at the nexus of several villages with deep griot traditions, and a long history. Bassekou is descended from a long line of griots on both sides. He is the son of Moustapha Kouyate, who played the ngoniba, or large lute, and Yakare Damba, a singer.


Bassekou was taught the ngoni by his father, who used to hold group classes with all the boys in his household in Garana (only boys learn to play the ngoni). After this, Bassekou moved to Segu (capital of the Segu region) in order to join the guitar player Cheikh Oumar Diabate and his wife Nainy Diabate, then one of Mali’s most popular young female singers. Cheikh Oumar’s group was made up of young virtuosi who were experimenting with new ways of playing griot music, and Bassekou began to develop his own techniques on the ngoni.


In Mali the success of Ngoni ba (his actual band) has led to a revival of an instrument that had been neglected in the last years, and to a renewed interest in Bamana music. Today in Mali not a week passes without Bassekou being approached by some young musician who wants to take up the ngoni. Ngoni ba has become one of Mali’s most influential bands of the 21st century – sending an important message to the youth of just how much life and soul there still is in their own ancient musical traditions.


Interview with Bassekou Kouyate

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