AMP homeEventsSpecial featuresRecommended cdsRecommended readingVarious photosContact AMPRelevant links
Seckou Keita

Although Seckou was born in Senegal, he is a descendant of the Malian Keita family of kings. Under normal circumstances his lineage would not allow him to become a griot but he learned to play the kora during his up-bringing by his mother’s side of the family, the Cissokho’s, a well-established griot family in Senegal. By the age of 7 years Seckou was already performing at festivals in Senegal, supporting his famous uncle Solo Cissokho. At 12 years old he had formed his own group, Coute Diomboulou and was performing all over the country.
In 1996 Seckou went to Scandinavia under the guidance of his uncle Solo Cissokho, and performed at the Forde festival with musicians from Norway, India and Cuba.
The group combined traditional music from each of their countries to create a new musical style. The next year they were at the Global Music Festival in India performing with Dr L. Subbrimaniam, an internationally renowned violinist and composer. The patriarch of the family, Solo Cissokho, first mentioned a dream of their family uniting to carry on their powerful tradition throughout the world, introduce it in its modern form and to be called Jalikunda (the House of Griots). Read on to see the vital part Seckou Keita is having  in fulfilling this dream ... 
In 1998, Seckou relocated to Britain and became a member of the fusion band Baka Beyond, touring all over Europe (the Czech Republic, Spain, France, Portugal, Greece and Britain) in festivals such as Womad and Glastonbury. Playing either the kora or drums, he has been in great demand at drum camps, private parties, weddings and first night openings of musicals such as ‘The Lion King’ in London’s Covent Garden. Seckou’s first album Baiyo (meaning 'Orphan') was released in 2001. This 9-track CD has recently been re-released under the title Mali. On some tracks Seckou plays the kora only and on others its  beautiful sound is complemented by the violin, mandolin, drums and vocals. Seckou composed the song ‘Tamala’ with thoughts of his sojourn from Africa to Europe via India. A most enjoyable track, 'Sabu Nginna’, portrays the luck Seckou has had in becoming a musician. 
In 2001, Seckou impressed audiences as a solo performer at Womad (Las Palmas) and the Sacred Music Festival (Ireland).
During BBC Radio 3’s event ‘Africa Night’. at the Jazz Café in London Seckou played kora while Justin Vali from Madagascar played  the valiha, forming a great duo from across Africa. Following that Seckou was nominated for the 2001 World Music Award by Radio 3's listeners. 
Seckou created the band Jamoral which

was the first step in modernising kora music with a groove dance approach. The band took part in different festivals such as Womad, the Edinburgh Festival and the Epicuriales (France). Their recipe for success was a potent cocktail of spiritual Afro-Mandinka music with a twist of jazz, inspired by the songs, dances and rhythms of the lush area of Casamance in southern Senegal where many members of the band come from. As a ten-piece band, Jamoral is made up of two koras, bass, balafon, sabar, djembé, bougarabou, doun-doun and two voices. Jamoral can also be an acoustic four-piece band. Whether a four-piece or a ten-piece band, their power draws on the deep roots of traditional African percussion, dance and song resulting in a dynamic and inspirational blend. Having had such a positive response at major festivals and also smaller events, the members of Jamoral decided to join up with Jalikunda.
In 2002, Seckou invited 4 members of his family to tour all over UK in renowned festivals in the band Jalikunda. Their first family album Lindiane was released in 2003 and they were also very busy touring.

Next, in 2004 Seckou formed a multi-national band, Seckou Keita Quartet, or SKQ. The members are: double bass/electric bass player Davide Mantovani, the eclectic percussions of Surahata Susso, the distinguished sound of the violin by Samy Bishai and the enchanting voice of Binta Susso - the newest addition to the band, who turns the quartet into a quintet! Their CDs are Afro Mandinka Soul...Tama Silo (2006) and The Silimbo Passage (2008). SKQ are constantly on tour all over the world, e.g. in 2008 at Zanzibar's Sauti za Busara festival in February, opening for Miriam Makeba at Brighton Festival, the Guardian Hay Festival
and the Jazz Café in London to name but a few.
More information is on Sekou's own charmingly designed website: www.sekoukeita.com