They say the sound of kora - a West African harp instrument traditionally made with cow skin - is magical. Today, no one can play it with more warmth than Seckou Keita, a Senegalese music hero, whose song ‘Rewmi’ swept the country earlier this year on the eve of the historic Presidential election in Senegal, serving as a backdrop to the fall of the incumbent Abduwale Wade and signalling the arrival of a new democratic era.
Seckou Keita was born in Ziguinchor, Senegal in 1978 – a contemporary Griot, considered by many to be leading a new generation of African musicians. He was first taught the kora by his grandfather and uncles when he was just a child and as he grew so too did his talent and flair not only for the kora but for drumming and percussion too. Seckou was trained in the Mandinka tradition at home and immersed in the Wolof tradition outside, both of which served to shape his own unique musical style.
By the age of seven Seckou was already performing in public with his uncle Solo Cissokho, and by 12 he had formed his own band. By the summer of 2000 Seckou had recorded his debut album Baiyo, meaning ‘Orphan’, captivating audiences across Europe, soon releasing two more albums, ‘Afro-Mandinka Soul’ in 2006 and ‘The Silimbo Passage’ in 2008. In 2010, he began a partnership with The Red Cross, supporting their work to assist victims of war, and in 2011 he was nominated for a World Music Award by BBC Radio 3 listeners and travelled across Europe supporting Salif Keita and Youssou N’Dour.
Today, Seckou is bringing his music to the UK once more, together with an all-star seven-piece band made up of accomplished musicians from across West Africa and the Caribbean, perfming songs from new album ‘Miro’ from Bristol to Manchester to Leeds. To find out more about the album or book tickets to a Seckou Keita performance, please visit www.seckoukeita.com.
Seckou Keita’s new album ‘Rewmi’ is available on iTunes from 1 October 2012.