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David Dalle
Thursday February 4th, 2016 with David Dalle
The three greatest Mandé singers of their generation: Bako Dagnon, Kandia Kouyaté, Kassé Mady Diabaté

Today I am showcasing the 3 greatest Mandé singers of their generation, all from leading djeli families in Mali: Bako Dagnon, (b. 1948 or 1953), Kandia Kouyaté (b. 1959), and Kassé Mady Diabaté (b. 1949). All three received tremendous acclaim in their youth for their vocal prowess and achieved great success and fame within Mali and West Africa. None of these three have recorded much in the way of international releases, their focus tended towards their home audiences which treasured them. Kassé Mady Diabaté is the most international, having moved to Paris for a decade in 1988, and he has often appeared as a guest singer on internationally focused projects, with a small handful of solo recordings for the international market, including his most recent album”Kiriké”, a beautiful intimate recording with a quartet of musicians including French cellist Vincent Segal who also produced the album, Ballaké Sissoko on kora, Lansine Kouyate on balafon, Makan Tounkara on ngoni. This album came out in late 2014 and somehow escaped my notice until recently. Kandia Kouyaté had very little interest in recording or performing outside of Mali, though she did several international tours sponsored by ex-pats, she was so successful at home and her tradition is so intertwined with Mali. She was finally convinced into recording international releases by the prodigious Sengalese music producer Ibrahima Sylla and she recorded two albums in 1999 and 2002. However, she suffered a stroke in 2004 and faced a slow recovery barely speaking and not singing for 7 years, and even after her health was mostly restored, she considered herself retired. In 2011 Ibrahima Sylla visited her and convinced her to sing and record again and she started making some tentative steps towards that. Sadly Ibrahima Sylla died in 2013 and did not live to see Kandia Kouyaté’s new album “Renascence” finished, and produced by his daughter Binetou Sylla. Her new album is a stunning work and her vocal mastery is stronger than ever. Bako Dagnon’s career, like Kandia Kouyaté, was focused mainly within Mali as she had no need for and little interest in international audiences. Sadly, I have only recently learned of the supreme singer Bako Dagnon’s death last July, it’s hard to believe a voice this strong, this passionate, this powerful could ever be silenced. So today, the rebirth of one great career, the continuation of a second, and the memory of a third.
Kandia Kouyate - Renascence - Sterns Africa New
Bako Dagnon - Titati - Syllart
Kasse Mady Diabate & Lansine Kouyate - Kirike - No Format
Koala Boumba
Kandia Kouyate - Renascence - Sterns Africa New
Kasse Mady Diabate & Ballake Sissoko - Kirike - No Format
Bako Dagnon - Suma Koura Live - Africable
And of course, how wonderful to hear all three together! Ibrahima Sylla realized a project he was working towards for over a decade to bring these singers as well as singers Kemo Conde, Kerfala Kante, Lafia Diabate, Sekouba Bambino along with some of the best Mande instrumentalists to record together. Appearing in 2 volumes on his label Syllart, Mandekalou I and II.
Kasse Mady Diabate, Bako Dagnon, Kandia Kouyate - Mandekalou - Syllart
Mande All-Stars - Mandekalou II - Syllart
Fatoumata Diawara & Roberto Fonseca - At Home - Live in Marciac - Jazz Village
Florquestra - Live Canadian
Nazare Pereira - Forro - Playasound
Ethnic Heritage Ensemble - Freedom Jazz Dance - Delmark
Florquestra will be performing tomorrow night at the Mercury Lounge, the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble will be at the Mercury Lounge on Thursday February 18th.
Interactive CKCU