Mory Kante

Decades: 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s


29 March 1950, Albadania, Guinea. One of the great preservers and modernizers of the traditional music of west Africa’s Mandinka people, Kanté also achieved major recognition in Europe in the 80s, where from his Paris base he fused the ancient sounds of the kora (west African harp) with black American dance music.

Kanté was born into a family of famous griots (musician-historians who combine entertainment with tribal history and lore), and at the age of 15, he was sent to Bamako, Mali to stay with his aunt and learn both the kora technique and the detailed tribal history that he would need if he was to become a professional griot. In 1971 he joined the Rail Band, then Mali’s leading group, who for years were resident at the city’s Station Hotel, where they entertained both the residents of Bamako and travellers who had completed the long train journey from Dakar in Senegal. During his seven years as guitarist and...

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