N’Faly Kouyaté

(balafon, kora, n’gonin, djeli doundoun, djeli tamamba, toumba)

The winner of ‘Talent of Guinea’ (Paris, March 2015, Best group) and again nominated for the Guinean Music Awards (November 2015), N’Faly Kouyaté, is a multi-talented artist coming from a deeply traditional background. Recently nominated as ‘Ambassador of the Intercultural Dialogue’ in Belgium, winner of the ‘Guinée Music Award’ 2012, nominated for the ‘Octaves de la Musique 2012’ in Belgium, nominated as ‘Talent Acoustique’ on TV5 Monde, he released his new album ‘CHANGE’ on 5th August 2015 in London.

Due to his dexterity and elegance in impassioned playing of the kora, N’Faly Kouyaté became also known as the ‘Jimi Hendrix of the kora’ and the face of Afro Celt Sound System. Already in 1999, their projects achieved a Golden Record and in 1999 and 2001 they were even nominated for the Grammy Award. He has now branched out into a new style called AFROTRONIX. This style is deeply rooted in African music and draws on polyphony and electronic music.

N’Faly Kouyaté is an artist of commitment and his music invites us to dance, but the lyrics are far from frivolous, addressing subjects such as AIDS, the sale of arms, abuse of power and the change that each of us needs to make in our lives on his new album CHANGE.

As the son of the famous “Konkoba” Kabinet Kouyaté from Guinea, he was traditionally brought up as a Djeli (Griot), an ambassador of the Mandingo culture. The Griot (which means in his language Mandinka ‘Blood of the Society’ because they are everywhere like the blood in the body) has been a life library, history teller, counsellor of the King and the population. You can compare his role to the celtic bards or even a journalist in our times. Thus, he stands in line with professional musicians who have for centuries been an indispensable part of West African culture.

Konkoba is a superior grade of griots. Grade rare (there exist only about five Konkobas since the 11th century). Konkoba Kabinet acquired this grade through difficult tests and a perfect mastery of the secrets of life, and understanding of the occult sciences. N’Faly has been initiated by his father to follow up this old tradition. He is in the line of heritage for the Konkoba.

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 the Mandingo Empire in 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. Since 1996, he is director of his own african music school ‘NAMUN School’ where students can learn about African traditions, history, instruments (like the kora, the balafon, doundoun, …) and polyphonic singing. He founded in 2011 a festival, ‘FestiKONKOBA’, panafrican festival of arts and culture, in Brussels and Guinea.

For a long time N’Faly Kouyaté has engaged in humanitarian projects. He brought electricity to his community and started recently a project of water adduction in his village. This project is called THE SOURCE.