Sekhou Senegal
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Sekhou Senegal

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Sekhou Senegal is a West African ensemble, under the direction of renowned twin brothers, Assane and Ousseynou Kouyate. “The twins,” as they are affectionately called, were born and raised in Senegal, West Africa, of a family line originating in Mali and Guinea. They are descendants of a long line of griots, also known in their native Mandinko language as “jelis” (djélis). Griots – the poets and oral historians, embody the culture of the people, dating back 900 years to the beginning of the Malian Empire.

In Africa, cultural traditions are orally and physically transmitted, and passed down from generation to generation. Being raised and trained in these cultural traditions exposed the twins to history, music, song and dance, from an early age.

They started their professional career as choreographers and lead dancers with the renowned Ballet National du Senegal and The Ballet Sinomew, dancing professionally for over 5 years and touring internationally throughout South and North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. They have also electrified audiences with their vocals and graced the stages with many prominent West African artists including Youssou N’Dour, Toumani Diabate, Ami Koita, Baaba Maal and Kine Lam, to name a few.

Their band, Sekhou Senegal, combines West African griot musical traditions with elements of mbalax, sabar, jazz, funk, reggae and more. The ensemble consists of the twins accompanied by 6-8 members, playing traditional African instruments, including, the djembe, dun dun, sabar, tama, kora, ngoni, balafon and the added modern flare of percussion, keyboard and bass.

Through the griot musical traditions, the great achievements of the ancestors are recounted. Through their contemporary music and dance, these djélis honor the contributions of those now with us. Their work is comprehensive and never ending. They effectively use the performing arts to teach values, history and to expose audiences to West African artistry of the highest caliber.