Sorie Kondi

Sorie Kondi

 Freetown, Western Area, SLE
BandWorldEDM

Blind genius who was abandoned and left for dead during the 1999 RUF invasion of Freetown. His master tapes were burned in the fire. Since 2007, has released two albums, two videos, and gained international recognition through his appearance on VOA, LinkTV, BBC, and Chief Boima remixes.

Biography

"My people left me in town, they all went to hide in the bush. I wanted to follow them but I didn't know the way to go." translation of lyrics from "Lo We Come Together" from the CD "Without Money, No Family"

Sorie Kondi was born in the village of Mangiloko, near the city of Makeni in Sierra Leone, West Africa around the year 1968. His actual birthdate is not certain because there is no official record of his birth. His country ranks as one of the three poorest countries in the world in terms of infant mortality, life expectancy, per capita income, health care, and infrastructure. He never went to school but began to play the kondi, a traditional instrument of Sierra Leone as a teenager. It was apparent early on that he had a special talent for music, and by 1984 he started earning some small money by playing at ceremonies and travelling to nearby villages.
Being born blind in such a poor country and never receiving any formal education would seem like enough hardship by itself. But then his life was uprooted in 1996 when civil war forced him to leave his home and seek refuge in Freetown. Despite the ongoing war, he began recording his first album there in 1998, and finished it after 4 months. But on January 6, 1999, the rebels staged a brutal assault on Freetown called Operation No Living Thing. Almost all the city’s residents fled to the bush. Sorie was abandoned, forced to hide inside his house for 5 days while much of the city was looted and burned down. When the dust settled, the master tapes had been lost and his career plans derailed. He decided to remain in the capital city, in a neighborhood called Fourah Bay, renting a one-room shack perched on a dangerously steep hill (dangerous, that is, even for a sighted person).
Having lost his chance to commercially release a cassette, Sorie Kondi made a name for himself (literally, he adopted the name of his instrument as his surname) as a street musician. Unfortunately, this profession doesn’t bring in much money in a country where almost everybody is living in poverty. But a trip in 2006 to the Lungi region, across the bay from Freetown would provide Mr. Kondi with a golden opportunity to put his career back on track.
By chance, an American recording engineer named Luke Wassermann, spotted him playing his kondi, and was immediately impressed. The next day Mr. Wassermann asked to include him in the anthology of Sierra Leonean music he was working on, and they arranged to record a live performance near the chief's compound in Tintafor. The next step was to record a studio album. "Without Money, No Family" was released in July 2007 by the Cassette Seller's Association of Sierra Leone. Both of these recordings were eventually released on the EarthCDs record label.

Since then, Sorie Kondi has slowly garnered international recognition and acclaim, while building his fan base in Sierra Leone through music videos, and appearing on local television programs like the Vickie Remoe show. He's been featured on Music Time in Africa on Voice of America, LinkTV, and in July 2011 the BBC World Service aired a documentary about him and the state of development in Sierra Leone.

Sorie Kondi is a musical genius and a cultural treasure, able to sing in four different languages (Loko, his mother tongue, Temne, Krio, and English). He is also an innovator; he taught himself how to play a little-known traditional instrument at
the age of 15, later electrified it, and developed a unique style of playing it. But lamentably, it seems that fate has been particularly cruel to him. Hopefully with this second chance at a recording career, he will finally earn the recognition and support he deserves.

Lyrics

Die Nor Afraid We

Written By: Sorie Kondi

Death is not afraid of us, my brother, death is not afraid of us
I tell you, when death is ready to take you, your work is finished
It doesn’t matter whether you are Muslim or Christian
You could be a poor man or a rich man
Even if you are a doctor or magical healer
When death comes, your time is done

Nor Molest Me

Written By: Sorie Kondi

Don’t ridicule me, friend, for the hardship I endure today
If I come beg to you, and you’re not able to give,
then please don’t mock me
When you persecute me, maybe you are persecuting God
My people, the world is like an egg, it turns round
If you have providence, don’t laugh at the one who is bad off
Perhaps today for you, tomorrow for your neighbor
When a beggar comes to you, be friendly to him
If you talk to him nicely, he will be happy
as if you had given him a generous sum

Nor Fala

Written By: Sorie Kondi

Let’s not get wrapped up in the pleasures of this world
If we do so, we might be ashamed in the next world
Every man should know that God loves all his children
If we follow the temptations of this world
We are following Satan, because Satan rules this world
If Satan didn’t live in this world
He wouldn’t have been able to conquer so many people

Without Money, No Family

Written By: Sorie Kondi

I, Sorie Kondi, have been left behind because I have no money
My family didn’t want me
So I have realized that without money, no family
You people of God, be sorry for me
Because even my own family has rejected me
Please, friend, don’t molest me
If I come beg to you, and you have nothing for me,
then please don’t take offense

Discography

-THOGOLOBEA, LP Studio Production, available worldwide soon
-MUSIC OF SIERRA LEONE: VOLUME 3, EarthCDs MOSL-CD3 (available worldwide)
-WITHOUT MONEY, NO FAMILY, Hot Plate Studio Production, (Distributed by EarthCDs worldwide, available on iTunes, last.fm, and other online music retailers)
-VIDEO SINGLE (Without Money, No Family). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhxXgX-wA-w
-VIDEO SINGLE (Thogolobea). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-T66xnb5VUg
-LIVE VIDEO. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ele-7f6NbcQ
-VICKIE REMOE SHOW. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-H3N8Wo0nM
-SORIE KONDI and the MDGs. BBC World Service, 2011.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjhDn0TAEpQ

Set List

Original songs 4-10 min each.
Sings in 4 different languages.

1. Die nor afraid we
2. Ngalungala
3. Thogolobea
4. Wetin Yu De Cray For
5. Nor Molest Me
6. We nor go die
7. Without Money, No Family
8. Bumbuna
9. Congoma
10. Frade
11. Salone Tiday
12. Yu Mama
13. Politicians
14. Wetin Yu Go Do For We
15. Joh Songoh