N'Faly Kouyaté et Dunyakan
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N'Faly Kouyaté et Dunyakan

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"WOMAD 04 - N'Faly Kouyaté & Dunyakan"

The Manding people populate vast swathes of West Africa. Their culture is one of the richest and deepest in the region and their griots are famed far and wide. The Kouyates of Guinea are a renowned griot clan and N'Faly Kouyate has taken their skill for improvisation and kora playing, inherited from his father, Konkoba Kabinet Kouyate, to new audiences the world over.

Having performed with the University Troupe of Conakry and starting a theatre company in his native Guinea , N'Faly moved to Brussels in 1996 where he formed his own group, Dunyakan 'the Voice of the World'. He also launched an educational and community initiative called Namunkanda ('Defence of Culture') which he runs with his wife, Muriel Finet Kouyate. Since 1997, N'Faly has been a permanent member of the Afro-Celts, contributing kora and voice to many of their award winning albums and performing live with them on stage throughout the world. Dunyakan make music with the traditional instruments of West Africa like the kora, djembe and balafon, but also integrate the 'western' sound of the bass and drums. Their inspiration comes from jazz, traditional West African story-telling, rock and the sweet polyphonies of N'Faly 's native Guinea. It's a potent mix and N'Faly is a tireless advocate of his own Manding roots, and West African music in general.

Courtesy of Andy Morgan, July 2004

Read other people's comments then Tell us what you think:

Mark, Malta
I saw N'faly perform with Renzo Spiteri a reknowned local percussionist. It seemed as if they knew each other since ever and not just a couple of days. N'faly's great presence,in it's simplicity, added a touch of spice and color

rwignall cornall
two years on and his show still uplifts me

Saw N'faly play in Inverness at Tartan Hearts Fringe Festival.. you'll never meet a nicer guy and he uplifted my day with his music.

Karen, Antwerp
I saw n'Faly Kouyate at Couleur Café 2005 festival in Brussels and he was great!! He smiled the whole time and made everybody happy! And the music was so beautiful..

Geert from Brussels
How can so called big artists do so poor performances with badly tuned vocal parts & overran high tempo's and out of tune instrumentstrying to play a poor mix of bad played reggae some poor rap and out of key pop be yourself and play your own music

Rachel, London
I went to N'Faly Kouyate's workshop and was completely mesmerised by his energy and enthusiasm. The kora was like a second voice for him (when he laughed he played all these little ripply notes up and down the strings!). The concert showed a more funky side to him - versatility is obviously one of his strengths. Utterly inspiring.

Anke, Reading
Brilliant show. It was the first one I saw and I still think it was the best. The band had an amazing energy and everyone danced like crazy. \o_ to the two other girls just to the left of the stage - we should form a group really! :)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/womad2004/nfaly_kouyate.shtml - BBC Radio 3

"Artists - N'Faly Kouyaté"

N’Faly Kouyaté was born into one of the the most famous families of griots of the heart of the Mandingue in West Africa, an area which includes Guinea-Conakry, Mali, the Gambia, Senegal, and Burkina Faso. As one of the most charismatic performers of his generation, N’Faly is ideally placed to carry on the legacy of his father and also to help promote knowledge, enjoyment, and respect for his culture.He is the son of Konkoba Kabinet Kouyaté of Siguiri, in the Republic of Guinea. Through his performances, he uses music and storytelling as a way to open doors between different peoples and cultures, striving always to tell about his culture while embracing others, with a profund sense of inclusion rather than exclusion, of unity between cultures and finally, our shared humanity.He is a tireless advocate of his culture, yet his love of collaboration and discovering new worlds leaves him open to all experiences. Comfortable in many worlds, he lives by his father’s early counsel to respect and embrace new ideas; this viewpoint is deeply embodied in both his recorded and live work. To this end, he has a nonprofit, Namunkanda (The Defense of Culture).He also pursues his career and goals through his work with his own ensemble Dunyakan ("The Voice of the World") in which blues, world music, jazz and the traditional music of Guinea are intermingled.From Africa to 2004: 1983-1996: Performed with the University Troupe of Conakry, Les Heritiers de Sory Kandia Kouyate, the Kaloum Saguee Theatrical Troup, the Bourkinabe Theatre Workshop and La Troupe Nationale de la Guinee (1st prize, Bouake, Cote D’Ivoire, ’94). He was also invited to perform with legendary Johnny Copland, in Burkino Faso.1996-1999: Upon arrival in Brussels worked with Jeunesses Musicale to educate children regarding the Mandingue culture. Formed the ensemble Dunyakan ("the Voice of the World"). They also formed Namunkanda ("the Defense of the Culture"), which strives to educate and encourage tolerance of all cultures through music. Released his first, self-titled, CD. Joined the Chris Joris Experience and performed on "Live at Middleheim," which won the "Prix Django D’Or" prize. Was invited to join the Afro Celt Sound System and performed on their second, Grammy-nominated CD, "Volume 2: Release," which acquired gold status in Ireland. He has performed at prestigious international festivals such as: Glastonbury, Montreux, Montreal Jazz Festival, Fleadh, Cambridge Folk Festival, WOMAD, and others. With ACSS, he has performed on the Conan O’Brian Show, Donny and Marie, and the Millennium Eve Event in Dublin. He continued performing with Dunyakan at such venues as the Paradise in London, the Annual African Festival in Dublin, the Celtic Harpe Festival in Dinan, France, etc.2000-01: With ACSS, toured Australia, Europe and the U.S. and performed with Peter Gabriel on the David Letterman Show and at WOMAD Seattle. Made extensive contributions to ACSS CD, "Volume Three: Further in Time," which received 2001 Grammy nomination. He toured US and Europe with ACSS in summer 2001. He performed for schools and cultural organizations in New York. Performed solo at the Taipei World Music Festival. He also continued Namunkanda, which expanded to North America. Dunyakan released their CD "N’Na Kandje," which received widespread praise. Dunyakan performed on national Belgium television on numerous occasions.2002-3: In January 2002, ACSS received the Listeners’ Choice Award at the BBC Radio 3 Music Awards. Dunyakan continued to perform throughout Europe, and toured the UK, performing at venues such as Blackheath Halls in London, Fiddlers Club in Bristol, and the Royal International Pavilion in Llangollen, Wales. N’Faly performed solo at the Big Big World Festival in Glasgow, as well as appearing on BBC Africa, HTV Bristol, and Choice FM. N’Faly and Muriel facilitate at percussion/polyphonic workshops throughout Europe. Festivals have included Bidasoafolk in the Basque Countries, and Rainbowpark, Netherlands. N’Faly also toured extensively with ACSS in Summer 2003 to promote their critically acclaimed new CD, "Seed;" they performed at Glastonbury, Cambridge Folk Festival, Eden Prject and Summerstage NYC, among others. 2003 also saw exciting new projects, such as "Anyeben kafo" (Malinke "we come together to play together"), organized by jazz musician Pierre Vaiana, and which combined 28 musicians from the Mandingue tradition such as Momo Wandel Soumah and Mamady Keita to meet and play with European musicians. N’Faly participated in "Coast to Coast. In 2003 Namunkanda invited by UNESCO to participate in their new LEA project and website, which helps educate about the arts on an international basis; N’Faly is listed on their site as expert in the arts and culture of the Mandingue region.2004: N’Faly performed with Muriel at the Musiques Sans Frontieres Festival in Cairo in April. N’Faly also performed in Athens, Greece in June with a group of 42 Belgian-based musicians in conjunction with the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, in a series of concerts entitled "The World and Manos Hadjidakis." Dunyakan performed at WOMAD(UK) in July, as well as Festival Nuits D’Afriques in Montreal, their first North American appearance. Their CD, "Kora Grooves" was released internationally through ARC Music in September 2004.Recent Biography: N'faly's solo career has kicked into high gear since the end of 2003. He has toured Wales with Dunyakan, performing at the Royal International Pavilion at Llangollen among other venues. This experience energized Dunyakan and prepared them for marketing their CD, "Kora Grooves from West Africa," ARC Music, which was released in October 2004. In summer of 2004 N'faly and Dunyakan performed at the Festival Nuits D'Afrique in Montreal, Quebec, one of the most respected African festivals. They opened the festival and performed at Club Balattou with great gusto.With the release of the CD, a floodgate of sorts was opened, as the combination of international distribution, great review attention, and airplay of the music increased N'faly's international visibility greatly, setting him as an important international artist aside from his respected work with the Afrocelts. His passion to continue to build and develop his group and his own music is a continual process, and throughout 2004, Dunyakan continued to perform, at such respected festivals as WOMAD Reading (UK). In addition, one of his dreams, the founding of a music school which specializes in all manner of African music, was realized, and Cadence Mandingue(www.cadence-mandingue.be) was opened.2005 brought many excitements, as N'faly and Dunyakan continue to perform throughout Belgium, N'faly's current home (he lives in Brussels), and throughout Europe and the UK. In late May, summer season started with a small UK tour, ending at Bray Jazz Festival, and with stops at such clubs at Hebden Bridge's Trades Club, and the Junction, in Cambridge. They also performed at WOMADrid, WOMAD's first festival in Madrid, at Couleur Cafe, Francofolies at Spa, and, with the Afrocelts, N'faly performed at Eu'ritmix, at Grand Place in Brussels, one of the most beautiful sites in Europe. His song "Sene," or "Working the Land," will no doubt be the high point of the new Afrocelt release, Anatomic. N'faly performed at the Nuits Nomad, at Besançon, France. N'faly performed solo at Tartan Heart Festival in Inverness, Scotland, where he literally stopped traffic.Recently, N'faly has collaborated with the respected Belgian group Urban Trad, who put their own unique spin on the concept of fusion. He is featured on their new single, Diama Dén.In 2006, N’faly’s new CD, Tunya, which has many exciting and surprising new ideas and perhaps even a guest or two, is slated for 2007 release. He performed in September at Sori-WOMAD (S. Korea), throughout Europe at festivals such as Pardinas (Spain), Open Sky (Switzerland)... even home in Belgium at Afrolatino, Feest in’t Park, and Djansa Festival. On 29 April, he performed with the Afro Celt Sound System and Urban Trad, at Oxfam’s Melange Continental, their 35th year anniversary celebration. There were two trips to Malta, one to perform for the President. In September, the Bucarest Francophone in Romania, where Dunyakan shook the city! N’faly was also invited to guest with Urban Trad at Belgium’s anti-racism concerts on 1 October.2007 will see the release of his cd Tunya (Truth), which is an exciting fusion of African and Western, modern and yet the most ancient of Mandingue music, bringing the traditional Mandingue melodies and rhythms firmly into the 29th century, with his characteristic openness and inclusivity. It is a departure from many traditional African-based releases, with the collaboration of several classically trained artists, namely violinists and cellist, in addition to N'faly's tremendous kora and balafon playing and the more traditional sounds of the band as well, truly Mandingue music for the new millennium, authentically fusing ancient with modern. Discography:Cross Over the World. Tinder. 1995. (Kora, "Mariama"). Compilation.Planet Flanders. 1997. (Kora, vocal, "Telen"). Compilation.N’Faly Kouyaté. Dunyakan. Self published, 1996.Wes Welenga. Wes. Sony, 1996. (Background vocals).Myrrdin. Ars Celtica. 1997. (Kora)N’Toman Keita. N’Dania. 1997. (Kora, backing vocals).Alan Stivell. I Douar. Disques Dreyfus, 1998. (Kora).Chris Joris. Live at Middleheim. De Werf, 1998. (Kora).Afro Celt Sound System. Volume 2: Release. Realworld, 1999.Afro Celt Sound System. Volume 3: Further in Time. Realworld, 2001.N’faly Kouyaté and Dunyakan. N’Na Kandje. Namun Records, 2001.Afro Celt Sound System. Seed. Realworld, 2003..Jesse Cook. Nomad. Narada, 2003. (kora)Robert Plant. Sixty Six to Timbuktu. Atlantic, 2003. (kora)Afro Celt Sound System. Pod. Real World/Virgin, 2004.Kouyaté, N’faly. Kora Grooves from West Africa. ARC Music, 2004.Afro Celt Sound System. Anatomic. Realworld 2005.Urban Trad. Diama Dén (single). 2006.Tunya. N'faly Kouyaté and Dunyakan. 2007.

http://www.womad.org/artists/nfaly-kouyate - WOMAD



The Afrocelt's Guinean kora player recently released his third album with solo project Dunyakan (Voice of the World), which he created in 1996 combining traditional kora, djembé, balafon and sabar with a western drum kit, guitars, bass and electronics.
I would like the audience to really listen to the music and to follow the counsel I've tried to give through it -- of peace and of love
N'Faly is, as his father was before him, a griot, keeper of his people's traditions and oral history. I asked him about this role, what it means to him, and what it is to be a griot in the modern world. "My music is an instrument for me, one that assures my role as griot. The relation between a griot and his music is like the relation of a doctor with his instruments, a pilot with his plane, one doesn't exist without the other. To be a griot is my function, and my music serves that function."
He continued, that to be a griot today was to be a defender of his culture, to bring people together and to protect the future, too, the future of the griot himself and his place in society. But, he added, the role of the griot had changed from its origins when the griot served the country's king.
"Our role has been greatly reduced, but we still hold the roles of musician, storyteller and historian, and I am proud to hold that role. I like to describe the griot as a 'walking library' because we guarded history before and since it was written down in books and libraries, and we still do, in our own way, as modern griots."
He emphasized the role of storytelling, even in his concerts, and said he aims to teach and give councel through his music as well as to entertain.
Although the main elements of his music, especially on his latest release Kora Grooves from West Africa, are rooted in Guinea, Western influences definitely show through, and Kouyate has worked since 1996 in Europe and especially in Belgium. I asked him how far his performance was still tied to his roots in Guinea.
"It is tied very strongly to my roots in Guinea, but it has also changed greatly since I came to Belgium. For me, to be human is to change, and to always strive to progress. I remember someone asking me once if I was nervous performing in front of huge crowds like at WOMAD, and I was surprised at this question.
"I remember my father telling me to never be afraid of new situations or to try new things, but instead to embrace them, and I try to do this in my life. This is one of the things my father taught me that I think of most often in my life, and is one of my strongest memories of my father.
"I know my music has been influenced by the variety of artists I've performed with, including Arabs, Belgians, Japanese so many different cultures. I've even worked with a sitar player, which was wonderful."
Kouyate has been involved in many collaborations, Belgium's Coast to Coast, Anye Ben Kafo and with the Afrocelts, "when the atmosphere is always charged with so many influences too that it is an inspiration to me and drives me to try different things with my own music.
"It is very exciting to me, and adds to my music, which I still consider very faithful to its roots. But again, I think we should always strive to grow and progress."
Having appeared with the likes of Wes Welenga, Jesse Cook and Robert Plant, as well as the Afrocelt collaboration. I asked Kouyate which had been his favourite: "My favorite collaboration definitely was when I worked with Peter Gabriel. He performed with us [the Afrocelts] on television and later at WOMAD Seattle with us. I had always thought that he would be impossible to approach, because of his fame and stature, but I found that he was very friendly and approachable, and treated me right from the start with great friendliness and respect.
"Actually he was the one listening to me, working with me, and that made a tremendous impression on me. I worked with his daughter Melanie and the other singers, to teach them the Malinke portion of the song 'When You're Falling' and as we were working on this, I noticed that Peter had stopped working and was sitting and watching us, writing down the lyrics and even singing along.
"This really touched me, that such a well known artist was interested in learning something from me. I found him to be very kind, very sympathetic, and open to everything, eager to learn about my language and my culture. I will never forget that, and later, singing on stage with him in Seattle at WOMAD was also something very special to me. It was a wonderful, unforgettable experience."
I finished up by asking what, if anything did he want an audience to take away from one of his performances? "The single thing I would like the audience to take away from my performances is to really listen to the music, and to follow the counsel I've tried to give through it, of peace and of love.
'I remember being very moved at WOMAD last summer, at the gala finale when all of the different artists came together on stage, and how well they played together, came together and how easy that was to do. It's like a lesson for life, really what we did on stage that day."
Look out for N'faly Kouyate with Dunyakan playing at Trades Club and the Junction, Cambridge later this year and with the Afrocelts at WOMAD Reading in July.
—Wyl Menmuir
Saturday 5 March 2005

http://www.flyglobalmusic.com/fly/archives/africamiddle_east_features/nfaly_kouyate_-.html - FLY - Global Music Culture

"Exeter Respect Festival launch party"

Exeter Respect, Exeter Phoenix, 19th June ‘08

Words and pictures by Matt Jackson

A cracking start to the Respect festival with N’Faly Kouyate and his band playing to a chilled out crowd of all ages fusing African rhythms, samba, jazz and funk in to one big danceable sonic melting pot.

N’Faly in his awesome robes and soulful vocals made great use of the range of his voice from soft lilting poems to heartfelt passionate songs whilst his band were all clearly musicians at the top of their game.

Kora on djembe banged out some great tribal beats to counterpoint their drummers funky groove and all the time their dancer strutted her stuff as well as lending her voice to the call and response sections of songs.

People watched on in awe as the band upped the tempo and N’Faly called for people to get up and dance which was what many in the crowd had been waiting for and soon the dancefloor was ablaze with people throwing shapes and flinging their hair around.

During one break between songs N’Faly threw some condoms in to the audience and said, “these are very important”, a reminder of the situation in Africa where they could save so many lives.

A fitting opening to the Respect festival from a band not only full of passion for music but social conscience as well.

http://www.phonic.fm/2008/06/28/the-exeter-respect-festival-kicks-off-in-style/ - Phonic FM


Cross Over the World: Tinder. 1995. (Kora, "Mariama"). Compilation: Planet Flanders. 1997. (Kora, vocal, "Telen") Compilation N'Faly Kouyate et Dunyakan: Self-published, 1996. Wes Welenga: Wes. Sony. 1996. Myrdhin: Ars Celtica. 1997. (Kora) N'Toman Keita. N'Dania. 1997. (Kora, backing vocals). Alan Stivell. I Douar. Disques Dreyfus, 1998. (Kora). Chris Joris. Live qt Middleheim. De Werf, 1998. (Kora). Afro Celt Sound System. Volume 2: Release. Realworld. 1999. Afro Celt Sound System. Volume 3: Further in Time. Realworld. 2001. N'Faly Kouyaté and Dunyakan. N'na Kandje. Namun Records. 2001. Afro Celt Sound System. Seed. Realworld. 2003. Jesse Cook. Nomad. Narada. 2003. (Kora). Robert Plant. Sixty Six to Timbuktu. Atlantic. 2003. (Kora). N'Faly Kouyaté. Kora Grooves. ARC Music. 2004. Zap Mama - Marie Daulne. Acestry in Progress. 2004. Afro Celt Sound System. Volume 5: Anatomic. Realworld. 2005. N'Faly Kouyaté and Dunyakan. Tunya. Galileo Music. 2008.



N'Faly Kouyaté's dexterity and elegance in impassioned playing the kora made him known as "Jimmi Hendrix of the kora". The Guinean griot and member of Peter Gabriel's project Afro Celt Sound System is now working on his next album. Kouyaté, two times Grammy-nominated, winner of a golden disc, founded his own group in 1996: Dunyakan, "voice of the world". Six musicians from different cultures create a musical revolution by the mix of traditional Mandingo and modern western instruments embellished by African dance. N'Faly Kouyaté has played amongst others for the Olympic Games in Athens and the wife of Nelson Mandela.