Grammy Award nominated Bassekou Kouyate’s extraordinary musical journey shows that he is unquestionably the most innovative and exciting Malian musician to have emerged in recent years. Having defied tradition he continues to push the boundaries of his ancient musical heritage, bringing his music to audiences around the world with his phenomenal live band Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba and three internationally acclaimed albums.
It is his daring reworking of his musical heritage that makes him a truly contemporary African musician – a visionary and a maverick who has completely changed our perception of this ancient instrument. By reviving one of the oldest instruments in the world he has bridged the gap between the music of his forefathers to the 21st Century, distinguishing him as an exceptionally talented artist of international stature.
In less than 6 years since the release of his first album with the Ngoni ba, Bassekou Kouyate has forged a distinctive sound earning him numerous accolades and awards. His debut album Segu Blue released by outhere records, became one of the most celebrated African releases of 2007, and was awarded Album of the Year and Best African Artist at the BBC 3 Awards for World Music. The success attracted American indie label Subpop, who picked up Bassekou’s sophmore album ‘I speak fula’ in 2010 as their first ever world music release. This second album earned him his first Grammy Award nomination in 2011. More up-tempo than its predecessor, the album captured the incredible live energy of Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba prompting the Independent to call them “the best rock’n’roll band in the world”.
His third album Jama ko followed in January 2013 and was produced by Arcade Fire allumni Howard Billerman. The album has been celebrated around the world, with the Guardian calling it “defiant, angry new music from Mali by the world’s greatest exponent of the ngoni, the ancient West African lute … Magnificent.”
Now an internationally renowned musician, over the course of his career Bassekou has played with stars such as Bonnie Raitt and Bono and won praise from legends like Eric Clapton. He also made a foray into blues and country with Taj Mahal and created freewheeling improvisations with banjo maverick Bela Fleck. Having regularly appeared on line-ups with Africa Express and Afrocubism in 2011 and 2012, he has performed on stage with the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, John Paul Jones, Damon Albarn and many more. Comprised of his wife Amy Sacko and sons Madou and Mustafa Kouyate, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba now tour the world playing hundreds of performances a year.
This show will take place at Arc, Stockton Arts Centre. Dovecot Street, Stockton on Tees. TS18 1LL