In 2018, Bassekou Kouyaté and his band Ngoni Ba will once again be bringing their electric take on African music back to our shores. No traditionalist, though arguably one of the worlds greatest ngoni players, he takes to this instrument, an ancient form of lute as if it were something found in contemporary rock and roll music. Adding electric guitar effects, his music transgresses genres and generations. In the Bambara language “ba” means both “strong” and “group”. A family affair, the band is fronted by his wife Amy Sacko, the so-called “Tina Turner of Mali” and comprises of musicians playing percussion and ngonis with a range of sizes and pitches. Born in a village called Garana, this musician has forever been surrounded by music and its influence, and with The Melbourne Critique, he spoke about childhood, music’s infinite joy and what life would be with out it.
Talk to us about your relationship with music, what does its presence in life, mean to you?
Music is very important for me. I grew up in a Griot family. Griots is the caste of musicians , storyteller and artists in general. My father was a famous Ngoni player and my mother a singer. I was connected to music all my live.
Where do you find inspiration for your music, and what do you hope your music will inspire in others?
I found the inspiration with my grandfather. My family was the official Griot family of the kings of Segou and is one of the biggest music family in West Africa. Music is transmitted from generations to generation. My sons and my daughter are also musicians and will keep the traditions. I also want to inspire other young Malian artists. Im planning to construct a music school in my home village, where we are going to teach music and other arts. Beginning from constructing the instruments themselves up to performing on stage.
Your family is quite musical, what was it like growing up for you? What was the first piece of music you heard as a child, how did it make you feel?
The songs of my grandfather. Very emotional
The band you have today, how did this come into being, and where would you like to see it go in the next few years?
My band is my family. My wife Amy, who is singing, my son, my brother & my nephew.
Im preparing a new album and will continuing playing around the globe.
Could you imagine a world without music, what would we stand to loose if this was reality?
As you see in my other answers, a life without music is not imaginable for me.
Thursday 18 JanuaryÂ – HowlerÂ
With special guests, Senegambian Jazz Band
Saturday 20 JanuaryÂ -Â Meeniyan Town Hall