West Africa comes to town

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Kadialy Kouyate is at this year's Rye Arts Festival

As part of the Rye Arts Festival, the singer and kora player from Senegal, Kadialy Kouyate Sound Archive, is playing at the Rye Community Centre on Saturday, September 24 at 8pm.

Played throughout West Africa (notably Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau), the kora is a 22-stringed instrument made from calabash gourds cut in half and covered in cow skin and with a long wooden neck. The strings are plucked by both hands, combining the sounds and style of the harp, flamenco guitar or lute.

Hypnotic melodies and rhythms are accompanied by singing, in the “jali” or “griot” tradition – long lineages of families and clans of poets, musicians and storytellers that tell the history and stories of their ancestors and who pass down the skills needed to play the kora.

Kadialy Kouyate is part of a long line of griot of the Kouyate clan (Kouyate translates to “there is a secret between you and me”) and joins that of the illustrious giants of the kora such as Toumani Diabate and Ballake Sissoko both from Mali, and Seckou Keita from Senegal (see https://www.songlines.co.uk/features/essential-10/kora-albums-the-essential-10 to listen to work by these artists).

For this concert, Kadialy performs with a guitarist, bass-player and percussionist. Playing works that he has written in the West African griot tradition, he “…showcases his fleet-fingered skills on this mesmerizing instrument, complementing it with his hauntingly, darkly beautiful voice”.  (Time Out, London).

The sound of the kora is beautiful, rhythmic, spiritual, complex and uplifting. This is definitely not one to be missed!

Image Credits: Rye Arts Festival .

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