" This is a slaughter. "At the end of the wire, the musician Cheick Tidiane Seck is upset. It does not support any addition to the african musicians who died these past few weeks, washed out for the most part by the Covid-19. This time, it is an old companion of the road is going. Mory Kanté. They spent part of their youth on the same benches, in the national Institute of arts of Bamako (in different promotions). Above all, they have shared the stage at the prestigious Super Rail Band, either at the Buffet de la gare de Bamako, or when a tour in West Africa that led up to Lagos ! The memories and anecdotes abound between these two when they meet at the Festival international de jazz de Conakry in march 2019 – in a moment immortalized by the cameras of the producer and senegalese rapper Didier Awadi.
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" Yéké Yéké ", global success
At the time of the tribute, Cheick Tidiane Seck welcomes first ambassador Mory Kanté. "Beyond the instrumentalist and singer, he has been the voice of the african culture, the man who had made universal and has marked several generations with his hit Yéké Yéké. This title does not belong only to the people of mandingo or african, and it became a classic planetary, a master-stroke. I greet, moreover, the memory of the record producer Philippe Constantin, who has contributed to this success thanks to its flair out of the ordinary when he was at Universal, " he says. Kora swirling, chorus copper intoxicating, " Yéké Yéké ", a song of love written (in mandinka), and composed by Mory Kanté, mark the spirits from the first notes. Released in 1987, the title passes to 5 million copies and ranks in the top of the hit-parades of europe. This is the golden age of World Music. But in Guinea, where the Kanté bore more than a star of the song, Mory is even more than this virtuoso musician recognized abroad. "What we've really admired is that he became a success with music that included traditional instruments like the kora, the balafon, the djembe, in addition to the voice. It has given him additional value, " says Justin Morel Junior, a journalist and former minister (of Culture and of Communication).
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The child of the Super Rail Band of Bamako
The kora, a kind of harp with 21 strings to the sound, he whipped through the suite, however, is not his first instrument. "In the early 70's, in the Super Rail Band of Bamako, Mory Kanté was playing the balafon, like his father, a great griot of the Mande. It has been lulled to sleep by this sound-there are, " says Cheick Tidiane Seck. A native of Albadaria, in the south of Upper Guinea's border with Mali, Mory Kanté is high in the rules of the tradition. "The education typical goes through a phase of mnemonic in which we learn the young griot, from the age of 5-6 years, to lay on each note of the words depicting major historical events that he should remember for always," continues Justin Morel Junior.
In Bamako, where he landed a child to live with his aunt Manamba Kamissoko, "a kind of Mahalia Jackson african that gave you chills when she sang" according to Cheick Tidiane Seck, Mory Kanté will meet the "giants" of the kora. Tidiane Koné, the leader of the orchestra at the Rail Band, and Batourou Sékou. The first advised him to practice this instrument. "It was a good choice. It was a classic game in the lineage of the masters of the instrument, and it was inspiring... He has mastered the kora up to be his instrument of identity, " says Cheick Tidiane Seck, who joined the Super Rail Band in 1973, where he is a keyboardist.
The band of the buffet de la gare of Bamako will see the emergence of many talents. In addition to Mory Kanté, and Cheick Tidiane Seck, it has also to members Salif Keita, Djelimady Tounkara... " It was like a family. It is really Tidiane Koné, the leader of the orchestra, who trained us, and launched. He has been the architect of the mandingue music modern, of which he was the Louis Armstrong. Even Fela loved it. It was a genius. He played the saxophone, the guitar, the trumpet, and it was also the best player of the ngoni (guitar traditional) all the time. It is he who said to Mory Kanté to put themselves in the song to replace Salif Keita, when he left the Rail Band to go to Abidjan, "recalls the" warrior " Cheick Tidiane Seck. It may be, in part, to this training created by the Régie des chemins de fer de Bamako in the wake of the great orchestras of national post-independence Mory Kanté pays a tribute in 2015. "This year, there had reformed The Ambassadors (other training malian who was playing in the Motel de Bamako in the 70's, editor's NOTE). During a concert in the south of France, we are back to Mory Kanté, who was scheduled before us. In the opening of his concert, he said : I'm going to play for the country that has done what I've become. It was expected that he was telling the Guinea, but he said Mali, " he continued.
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Mory Kanté does not forget the Guinea. In the 90s, there is more to this. Creates a great philharmonic orchestra, reflects on projects to associate and promote the musicians of the vintage. The district Morykanteyah, which bears his name, in the suburbs of Nongo in the north of Conakry, home to a cultural space to be built at his initiative. "Today it is a complex managed by his staff and that is the site of weddings, recordings... there is also a restaurant. But most of his projects remained unfinished, for lack of means. He wanted to create a structure for welcoming and hosting of artists, organising tours in Guinea. He also dreamed of a grand concert at the people's Palace where he would have been able to invite foreign musicians who accompanied him on his tours, and local musicians. This unfortunately has not been able to do, " said Justin Morel Junior.
In Conakry, in the district of Kipé, the latter has created a cultural place, WYD-Maguy. On Saturday evening, in the dry season, in the garden, Master Mamadou Aliou Barry, another product of these great orchestras funded from the 60s and 70s, as Kaloum Star, gives concerts. "Mory Kanté did not live very far away. He happened to come on foot, either for a friendly visit, either to play with Master Barry. And in these cases, it was not asking for a guinean franc ", he adds.
In 2010, he was awarded the medal of cultural merit of Guinea. Then, in 2019, the title of officer of the national order of merit, presented by the head of State Alpha Condé. "These are the highest honors the country's cultural. He also had a diplomatic passport. The minister of Culture has announced that a great national tribute to him would be rendered after the health crisis, and that his friends here and elsewhere would be invited, " stresses Justin Morel Junior. He also is already planning a big party in his honor, after the rainy season.
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