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Habib Koité

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Biography

The West African country of Mali has produced some great musicians. But as they age, people have wondered who'll step forward from the next generation. The big answer to that seems to be Habib Koité, who comes from the Khassonké griot tradition, that's the hereditary caste of musicians, but whose eyes are firmly on the future. Born in 1958, his lineage made music a part of his life and it was in order to accompany his mother's singing that he taught himself to play guitar, showing enough ability on the instrument that he was accepted at the National Institute of Arts (NIA) -- remaining there four years after his graduation in 1982 to teach guitar. From his early days, he hasn't played just in the standard Western tuning, but also traditional Malian tunes to make his instrument mimic the traditional n'goni (a four-string lute) and kamele n'goni, or young man's harp, with six strings, giving a richness and native texture to his work. Being at NIA afforded him the opportunity to play with some of the country's top musicians, including the likes of kora giant Toumani Diabaté. It wasn't until he was 30 that Koité decided to form a band, Bamada, and they toured extensively throughout Mali, before heading to the Perpignan Voxpole Festival in France in 1991, where they took first prize. That brought them the chance to record two songs, one of which, "Cigarette A Bana" ("The Cigarette Is Finished"), became a hit across West Africa, to the extent that children would sing its chorus in the streets. That led to another single, "Nanale" ("The Swallow"), and the Discovery of 1993: Media-Adami Award by Radio France International. In the wake of that, came Koité's first album, Muso Ko, which topped the European World Music charts (released in the U.S. 1999 on Alula Records). While many Malian musicians interpreted the tradition, artists who used it as a springboard for their own writing were -- and still are -- rare. But Koité's studies had grounded him in regional styles and rhythms, while his guitar work was strong and often subtle, enough to take in the music and spit it out as something new and fresh. As he said, "My way to play traditional music is to adapt the sounds of the traditional instruments from Mali through my acoustic guitar." By the time Ma Ya appeared -- it became his first American release, early in 1999 -- Koité had matured, both as a writer and a player. Socially conscious, his work had the natural infectiousness of good pop music, with the solid rhythmic and melodic base of Mali. The album, he stated was meant to be "a musical voyage through Mali. I give myself the freedom to move from one rhythm to another." Like Koité, Bamada had also come a long way, offering imaginative, sympathetic backing to his material and voice, although there was no doubt who was the star of the show. In summer 2001, he released his third disc, Bora. ~ Chris Nickson
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   Wassiye
  3.   Sarayama by Habib Koite & Bamada
  4.   Bitile by Habib Koite & Bamada
  5.   Imada by Habib Koite & Bamada
  6.   Baro featuring Bamada
  7.   Maya by Habib Koite & Bamada
  8.   Mara Kaso by Habib Koite & Bamada
  9.   Komine by Habib Koite & Bamada
  10.   Sirata by Habib Koite & Bamada
  11.   Fatma
  12.   Mansane Cisse by Habib Koite & Bamada
  13.   Foro Bana
  14.   Koulandian
  15.   Cigarette a Bana (The Cigarette Is Finished)
  16.   Nanale (The Swallow)
  17.   Kumbin by Habib Koite & Bamada
  18.   Pula Ku by Habib Koite & Bamada
  19.   Sin Djen Djen by Habib Koite & Bamada
  20.   Batoumambe featuring Bamada
  21.   Kunfe Ta (The Gutter)
  22.   Namania by Bamada
  23.   N'Ba by Bamada
  24.   Barra by Bamada
  25.   Fimani by Bamada
  26.   Muso Ko (Woman)
  27.   Balon Tan
  28.   Drapeau
  29.   Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad by Eric Bibb
  30.   Blowin' In the Wind by Eric Bibb
  31.   With My Maker I Am One by Eric Bibb
  32.   Khafolé
  33.   Send Us Brighter Days by Eric Bibb
  34.   Sinama Denw featuring Bamada
  35.   Takamba featuring Bamada
  36.   Mali Sadio featuring Bamada
  37.   Tere featuring Bamada
  38.   Roma featuring Bamada
  39.   Sambara featuring Bamada
  40.   Woulaba featuring Bamada
  41.   Wari featuring Bamada
  42.   Africa by Bamada
  43.   Massakè by Bamada
  44.   Nta Dima by Bamada
  45.   Baro
  46.   Wari by Habib Koite & Bamada
  47.   Kanawa featuring Bamada
  48.   Batoumambe by Habib Koite & Bamada
  49.   I Ka Barra (Your Work)
  50.   Din Din Wo (Little Child)
  51.   Nimato (If You Don't Stop)
  52.   Den Ko (Talking of Children)
  53.   On My Way To Bamako by Eric Bibb
  54.   Saramaya featuring Bamada
  55.   L.A.
  56.   Djadjiry
  57.   Need You
  58.   Diarabi Niani
  59.   Bolo Mala
  60.   Nimato featuring Bamada
  61.   Téréré
  62.   Tombouctou by Eric Bibb
  63.   Soô
  64.   N'Teri by Bamada
  65.   Mami Wata by Eric Bibb
  66.   Sin Djen Djen featuring Bamada
  67.   Sira Bulu
  68.   N'Tesse by Bamada
  69.   Touma Ni Kelen/Needed Time by Eric Bibb
  70.   Mali Ba by Bamada
  71.   Dêmê
  72.   Titati by Bamada
  73.   Namania
  74.   Nani Le by Eric Bibb
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