Descendant of the great n’goni players, Bassekou Kouyaté largely contributed to the promotion of this mythical and legendary instrument all around the world. From Garana (Baréouli) to Brussels passing by Segou, Bamako, Abidjan, Ouagadougou, Spain, Italy, and United States …, the virtuoso can boast of a glorious career.
Inheritance is the best source of inspiration and Bassekou Kouyaté drinks to limpid sources. Born in 1966 in Garana (Tamani, prefecture of Baréouli), his father Mustapha Kouyaté was certainly the best n’goni player of the region. Talent and virtuosity that was naturally at the service of the singer (his wife) Yagaré Damba. Unrivalled in the traditional rhythms like the ndjaro, the duet was all the rage among the Fulani’s and djogoramès regions.
was the toy of the children in our family. We competed in its
making and playing. At 12 years old, I already was a master in n’goni
playing” said the heir of the Kouyaté. Between
Coranic School and folkloric manifestation, the child had the time to
mature and to choose his career.
The rest of his career took shape as the encounters went by. He first met Cheick Oumar Diabaté, husband of the singer Naïny Diabaté, in Segou in 1983. The guitar player and the n’goni player became friends in life and accomplices on stage. Friendship and complicity which led them to settle down in Bamako were they had a lot of good opportunities. They were the arrangers of almost all the female singers: Koni Koumaré, Naïny Diabaté, and Tata Bambo Kouyaté…
In 1987, Bassekou meets Toumani Diabaté, the great revelation of the Kora of the eighty’s. This encounter is a decisive leap in his career. Two years later, they undertook a sub regional tour which leads them in Ivory Coast and Burkina… they then flight for Belgium for the folk festival Donaterre. This time Habib Koité, “the child of the Khasso” is in the journey. “It was the first time for us to go out of the African continent. We owe this privilege to Toumani Diabaté” reckons the husband of the female singer Amy Sacko.
1990, he’s the only representative of Mali at the festival of
the Banjo in Tennessee (United States). He remembers that “I
was the youngest artist invited. But I had a phenomenal success”.
Taj Mahal then remarked him. “We
immediately sympathised. We made emissions together. He dedicated me
a song and I did the same”.
band made several musical experimentation such as "Symphonie mandingue",
"Symétrie Orchestra", et "Songhaï II"
at the beginning of the ninety’s. These experiences allow the
confirmed talent to share his passion with stars as Carlos
Santana, Jackson Brown, Ali
Farka Touré, Cheick Tidiane
Seck, and Bonnie Raitt…