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Country Guinea Genres traditional roots fusion Website Festival Sauti za Busara 2008, 2013 Recordings
N’faly Kouyate & Dunyakan:
N’na Kandje, 2001; Kora Grooves, 2004; Kora Strings, 2011;
with Afro Celt Soundsystem:
Release, 1998; Further in Time, 2001; Seed, 2005
N'faly Kouyaté was born in Siguiri and grew up in Conakry, the capital of Guinea. As son of the famous “Konkoba” Kabinet Kouyaté from Guinea, N’Faly Kouyaté was brought up traditionally as a djeli (griot), an ambassador of the Mandingo culture. Thus, he stands in line with the professional musicians who have for centuries been an indispensable part of West African culture.
N'faly has lived in Europe since the mid 90s, where he is one of the busiest and most celebrated kora players. The kora is the most famous of West Africa's traditional instruments, and due to his dexterity and impassioned playing of this instrument, N’Faly Kouyaté has become known as the “Jimi Hendrix of the kora”.
As a griot (or “guardian of the culture”) N’Faly Kouyaté has taken on the responsibility of preserving the cultural heritage of artists, and in particular the musical traditions of West Africa. His aim is to develop a deeper understanding of these traditions and, above all, to share his passion for his own history and musical legacy.
After a brilliant show opening for Salif Keïta at the Africa Centre in London, under the auspices of WOMAD, Real World invited him for a concert with the "Afro-Celt Sound System," a fusion band that blends African and Irish sounds. He was soon invited to become a permanent member, performing at numerous festivals worldwide, including Glastonbury, WOMAD, Montreaux and Montreal. Afro Celt Sound System together with N’Faly have released several albums on the Realworld label, of which several have been nominated for international awards. In 2002 the band received the Listeners' Choice Award at the BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards.
Collaborating with other musicians is one of N'Faly's great strengths. At Sauti za Busara festival 2008 in Zanzibar, N'faly performed with his own group Dunyakan (Malinke, meaning "The Voice of the World"), with whom he regularly works in Europe and elsewhere as lead vocalist, composer and arranger. Featuring musicians from Guinea, Cameroun, Angola, France and Belgium, instruments alongside N'faly's magical kora included balafon, djembe, tama ("talking drum"), bass guitar, other drums and percussion.
Through his performances, N’Faly Kouyate 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 deep 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.
In 1996 he founded the non-profit organisation Namunkanda (“The Defense of Culture”) which promotes a harmonious relation between all cultures, the preservation of ancient traditions as well as information and knowledge of the Mandingo culture.
“As a musician, I feel a responsibility to capture my history and culture for the younger generation.”
In 2012, N’Faly toured all over the world, including Singapore for the Formula 1 race and in South Africa together with Ray Phiri and friends. In 2011, he won the 'Guinée Music Award', was nominated for the 'Octaves de la Musique 2012' in Belgium and was a winner of 'Le Rêve Africain' in Paris. He is now preparing a new album and world tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his international music career in 2014.