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Guinea is a West African nation, composed of several ethnic groups. Among its most widely known musicians is Mory Kanté - 10 Cola Nuts saw major mainstream success in both Guinea and Mali while "Yeke Yeke", a single from Mory Kanté à Paris, was a European success in 1988.
French is the official language of Guinea and is the main language of communication in schools, government administration, the media, and the country's security forces. Independence for Guinea came in 1958. Guinea's President, Sekou Toure, disbanded all private dance orchestras and created a network of state-sponsored groups.The government soon formed the Syli Orchestre National, a dance orchestra that featured some of the best musicians in the land.
" Liberté " (Liberty) has been the national anthem of Guinea since independence in 1958. It was arranged by Fodéba Keïta, based on the melody "Alfa yaya".
Guinea's 10 million people belong to at least twenty-four ethnic and racial groups. The most prominent are the Fula (40%), the Mandinka (30%) and the Susu (20%). Fula is widely used in the central Fouta Djallon, Maninka in the east and Susu in the northwestern coastal region.It is a predominantly Islamic country, with Muslims representing about 85 percent of the population. Christians, mostly Roman Catholic, about 10 percent of the population, are mainly found in the southern region of Guinée forestière .
Mandé music is dominated by the djelis, travelling singer-historians who sing praises to noble patrons. Traditionally, popular instruments include the ngoni, a distant relative of the banjo, and the balafon. Famous balafon players include El Hadj Djeli Sory Kouyaté and, early in his career, superstar Mory Kanté. The kora, a cross between a harp and a lute, is also widespread. Other popular folk music utilizes the cylindrical Dunun paired with the goblet shaped Djembe.
As in Mali, a roots revival occurred in the 1960s and 1970s with state support from Sekou Touré. He introduced a radical cultural policy called authenticite, whereby musicians and artists were instructed to "look at the past" for inspiration and to incorporate traditional practices in their arts. Authenticite ended with the death of Sekou Toure in 1984.
After World War 2, the guitar was imported to Guinea and players like Kanté Facelli and his cousin Kanté Manfila developed their own style of playing. In modern times, the guitar plays a very important role.
Some of the early dance bands included popular groups like Keletigui Et Ses Tambourinis, Balla et ses Balladins, and Kebendo Jazz (also known as Orchestre de Danse de Guéckédou). Many of these bands recorded on Syliphone records. Bembeya Jazz National further enriched Guinea's musical melting pot after visiting Cuba in 1965.
The balafon is a gourd-resonated xylophone, a type of struck idiophone. It is closely associated with the Mandé peoples of West Africa, particularly the Guinean branch of the Mandinka ethnic group, but is now found across West Africa from Guinea to Mali. Its common name, balafon, is likely a European coinage combining its Mandinka name bala with the word fôn 'to speak' or the Greek root phono.
The Music of Mali is, like that of most African nations, ethnically diverse, but one influence predominates; that of the ancient Mali Empire of the Mandinka. Mande people make up 50% of the country's population, other ethnic groups include the Fula (17%), Gur-speakers 12%, Songhai people (6%), Tuareg and Moors (10%) and another 5%, including Europeans. Mali is divided into eight regions; Gao, Kayes, Koulikoro, Mopti, Ségou, Sikasso, Tombouctou and Bamako.
A djembe or jembe is a rope-tuned skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands, originally from West Africa. According to the Bambara people in Mali, the name of the djembe comes from the saying "Anke djé, anke bé" which translates to "everyone gather together in peace" and defines the drum's purpose. In the Bambara language, "djé" is the verb for "gather" and "bé" translates as "peace."
The music of Burkina Faso includes the folk music of 60 different ethnic groups. The Mossi people, centrally located around the capital, Ouagadougou, account for 40% of the population while, to the south, Gurunsi, Gurma, Dagaaba and Lobi populations, speaking Gur languages closely related to the Mossi language, extend into the coastal states. In the north and east the Fulani of the Sahel preponderate, while in the south and west the Mande languages are common; Samo, Bissa, Bobo, Senufo and Marka. Burkinabé traditional music has continued to thrive and musical output remains quite diverse. Popular music is mostly in French: Burkina Faso has yet to produce a major pan-African success.
A griot, jali, or jeli is a West African historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet, or musician. The griot is a repository of oral tradition and is often seen as a leader due to his or her position as an advisor to royal personages. As a result of the former of these two functions, they are sometimes called a bard.
The Mandinka or Malinke are a West African ethnic group primarily found in southern Mali, eastern Guinea and northern Ivory Coast. Numbering about 32 million, they are the largest subgroup of the Mandé peoples and one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. They speak the Mandinka language, which is one of the Western Manding languages in the Mande language family and the lingua franca in much of West Africa. Over 99% of Mandinka adhere to Islam. They are predominantly subsistence farmers and live in rural villages. Their largest urban center is Bamako, the capital of Mali, which is also inhabited by the closely related Bambara.
The Rail Band is a Malian band formed in 1970; it was later known as Super Rail Band, Bamako Rail Band or, most comprehensively and formally, Super Rail Band of the Buffet Hotel de la Gare, Bamako. Its fame was built upon the mid-20th century craze for Latin — especially Cuban — jazz music which came out of Congo in the 1940s. The Rail Band was one of the first West African acts to combine this mature Afro-Latin sound with traditional instruments and styles. In their case, this was built upon the Mande Griot praise singer tradition, along with Bambara and other Malian and Guinean musical traditions. Their distinctive sound came from combining electric guitar and jazz horns with soaring Mandinka and Bamabara lyrical lines, African and western drums, and local instruments such as the kora and the Balafon. At their height of fame in the 1970s, the Rail Band played to sold out venues and even stadia across West Africa, and launched solo careers for many of its members, including the legendary vocalist Salif Keita.
Dunun is the generic name for a family of West African drums that have developed alongside the djembe in the Mande drum ensemble.
Toumani Diabaté is a Malian kora player. In addition to performing the traditional music of Mali, he has also been involved in cross-cultural collaborations with flamenco, blues, jazz, and other international styles.
Soumaoro Kanté was a 13th-century king of the Sosso people. Seizing Koumbi Saleh, the capital of the recently defunct Ghana Empire, Soumaoro Kanté proceeded to conquer several neighboring states, including the Mandinka people in what is now Mali. However, the Mandinka prince Sundiata Keita built a coalition of smaller kingdoms to oppose him at the Battle of Kirina, defeating the Sosso and leaving Sundiata's new Mali Empire dominant in the region.
Bembeya Jazz National is a Guinean jazz group that gained fame in the 1960s for their Afropop rhythms. They are considered one of the most significant bands in Guinean music. Many of their recordings are based on traditional folk music in the country and have been fused with jazz and Afropop style. Featuring guitarist Sekou "Diamond Fingers" Diabaté, who grew up in a traditional griot musical family, the band won over fans in Conakry, Guinea's capital city, during the heady days of that country's newfound independence. Bembeya Jazz fell onto harder times in the 1980s and disbanded for a number of years, but reformed in the late 1990s and toured Europe and North America in the early 2000s.
Mory Kanté is a Guinean vocalist and player of the kora harp. He is best known internationally for his 1987 hit song "Yé ké yé ké", which reached number-one in Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, and Spain. The album it came from, Akwaba Beach, was the best-selling African record of its time.
In the Heart of the Moon is a 2005 record by Malian musicians Ali Farka Touré on the guitar and providing vocals and Toumani Diabaté on the kora. The album was recorded in the "Toit de Bamako" conference room on the top floor of the Hotel Mandé overlooking the Niger River in Bamako, Mali. It is the first in a three-part series released on World Circuit Records entitled "The Hotel Mandé Sessions" followed by Savane and Boulevard de l'Independence. The album's title is derived from Touré's own more lengthy descriptive title for the recording session; "A very important meeting in the realm at the heart of the moon."
Abdoulaye Diabaté is a singer and guitarist who was born to a griot family in Kela, Mali in 1956. He has at least twenty years of experience in contemporary and popular music.
Balla et ses Balladins was a dance-music orchestra formed in Conakry, Guinea in 1962 following the break-up of the Syli Orchestre National, Guinea's first state-sponsored group. Also called the Orchestre du Jardin de Guinée, after the "bar dancing" music venue in Conakry that still exists today, the group made a number of recordings for the state-owned Syliphone label and become one of the first modern dance musical groups in Guinea to use traditional musical instruments and fuse together traditional Guinean folk music with more modern influences.
Keletigui et ses Tambourinis was a dance music orchestra founded in Conakry by the government of the newly independent state of Guinea. They were one of the most prominent national orchestras of the new country.
Djeli Moussa Diawara, born 1962 in Kankan, Guinea is a Kora player (Korafola), composer and singer.
Yasimika is the first studio album by Djeli Moussa Diawara, Guinean Kora player (Korafola), released in 1983.
Momo Wandel Soumah was a singer, composer, and saxophonist from Guinea, recognisable by his characteristic gravelly voice.
Mamadou Sidiki Diabaté is a prominent Mandé kora player and jeli from Bamako, Mali. He is the 71st generation of kora players in his family and a son to Sidiki Diabaté.