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