Mory Kanté was born on March 29, 1950, in the heart of Mandingo country, in a small village in southern Guinea, Albadaria, near Kissidougou. His father, El Hadj Djély Fodé Kanté, was already a very old man and Mory is one of the youngest of her 38 children. The Kanté family is a famous family of griots, poets, singers, historians, and journalists at the same time, true living memories whose role has been since the dawn of time to tell in music the endless epics of families and peoples. Mory's parents are both griots, a hereditary function, and his maternal grandfather was a powerful leader of griots at the head of about sixty of them. The destiny of the child is therefore quite natural to become a "jaly", a Mandinka term for "griot".
Raised first by his Malian mother Fatoumata Kamissoko, Mory goes to French school.
At the age of 7, his family sent him to Bamako, the capital of Mali, to his aunt, Maman Ba Kamissoko, another famous cherry. Until the age of about 15, he is initiated into traditional rituals, singing, and the balafon. He takes part in many family celebrations, in official ceremonies during which he forges a solid experience as a musician and singer.
During the 1960s, the very young Republic of Mali received many musical influences: Zairian rumba, Cuban salsa, Anglo-Saxon pop, and rock. The young Mory was passionate about this new electrified music at a very young age and learned the guitar. With a very rich traditional experience, he turned to certain modernity far removed from his family setting. In 1968, he left school to join the Institute of Arts in Bamako. But in 1969, he ceased his training and played in various orchestras, an equivalent notion of the Western “group”. He forged his first notoriety by making Malians dance all night long in open-air balls, the apollos.
In 1971, Mory was 21 years old. He was spotted by the saxophonist Tidiani Koné who offered him to join his group, the Rail Band of Bamako, the famous orchestra of the hotel de la gare. Mory accepts and takes a place in the orchestra whose singer is none other than the Malian, Salif Keïta.
It was in Los Angeles, on the label of black American Gérard Chess, Ebony, that Mory Kanté recorded his first album in 1981, Courougnègnè. The artist refines his happy mixtures between tradition and modernity, between traditional and electric instruments. Already well known in West Africa, Mory became a star across the continent. The musical bridge he creates between Africa and the West is generally well-received. In the wake of this success, he staged a large ballet for the French cultural center in Abidjan.
Mory Kanté died on May 22, 2020, at the age of 70, hospitalized in Conakry. His death was announced to AFP by his son Balla Kanté. After his death, several political and cultural personalities from around the world pay tribute to him. Guinean President Alpha Condé declares that “African culture is in mourning”. Senegalese President Macky Sall believes that "Africa has just lost one of its worthy sons". while Umaro Sissoco Embaló indicates that “Africa has lost an icon”, the world began mourning and celebrating his lifetime achievements.
This music icon received many awards and Recognition Like the Grand Prix des musiques du monde de la SACEM while he was alive; and although he is no longer with us, his music lives and AFRIFAMUACCA is proud to celebrate him with a Tribute Award to commemorate his contribution to the African Music all over the world.
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