Bassekou Kouyate was born in Garana, a small village near Segou. He is from a family of musicians, called djeli or griot. His grandfather was the legendary Banzounama Sissoko - a much loved ngoni-player. He was also known to be a fearless criticizer of politics and politicians.Bassekou is very inventive. Traditionally ngoni-players always sat down when performing. Bassekou changed this and was the first ngoni-player to stand up when playing his solos. Later in his career he was the first to form an ngoni-quartet. To make this happen he invented the base ngoni. Since 2006 he is touring with his band and wife Amy Sacko and combines the traditional bamana blues style from Segou with global influences and modern sound.Perhaps not all of you know this, but Bassekou was a fairly good football-player. The ‘basse’ in Bassekou means something like “go on” or “push on” in football lingo. I played against Bassekou in a game between Swedish and Malian artists at the Sweden-Mali voices festival in 2009. I had the honor to play goalkeeper and saved a penalty from Bassekou. He has a very good shot with his left foot and I had bruises from this save for a week!
Photo: Manfred Schweda
Photo: Carolin Ljungstedt, Fröjdholmen, July 2009
In their living room couch. Bamako, January 2010.
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