Sekou Kouyate

Guinea

Sekou Kouyate was born in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, into a family of exceptional Griots. Passed down through 70 generations of kora players, the music and peaceful philosophy and wisdom, is taught from parents to children, preserving the Mandigo culture of West Africa. The Griots used to be advisors of the Kings, and teachers through music to society, as is still the case. His father, the acknowledged Griot and kora player, M ́Bady Kouyate, was the leader of ‘Ballet African National de la Guinée’ and toured the world with artists including Harry Belafonte and Miriam Makeba. His mother, Diaryatou, was lead singer in his father’s band. Sekou started touring with his parents at the age of ten, and first recorded with them at eleven, when he was already considered a kora talent in his own right. At the age of twelve, whilst on a tour of Europe, he experienced electric guitar, which gave him the idea to electrify the traditional African instrument, and experiment with wah-wah pedals to add distortion to the classic sound. With this pioneering idea, he truly developed a style of his own that led to world recognition, when he performed with his cousins, Ba Cissoko ́s band, formed in 1999. The press wrote “Jimi Hendrix meets West Africa”, a sentence that has almost become an accepted term in music language.