Since the country of Mali has suffered a ban on music by Islamist militants, artists from around the world have come together to campaign towards promoting the culture and music of Mali. Musicians such as Toumani Diabate
are a few of the most outspoken advocates of Malian musical and cultural freedom. Kanaga System Krush (K.S.K.) Records also plays its role in preserving Malian music. Their latest album, Keme Borama out February 4th, highlights one of the golden voices of Griot singing – Tiécoro Sissoko. (first name pronounced ch-ee-ko-row).
Tiécoro is an exceptional solo artist and an intricate guitarist with a true Djeli soulful voice. He performed every week with the multi GRAMMY award winning kora player Toumani Diabaté at the famous Bamako club ‘The Diplomat’. Throughout his career, Tiécoro toured West Africa and France and played weddings, ceremonies and concerts in Bamako up until the last days of his life.
This album is Tiécoro’s only recording to be published and it’s a testament of his role as a Griot and a protector of his lineage. Despite the attempt to ban music, Griots and other Malian musicians continue to produce some of the world’s greatest music and Tiécoro’s final recording is a shinning example of storytelling through music.
K.S.K. label founder and producer Aja Salvatore says, “We first met Tiécoro at the now defunct Hogon club in Tomikorrobougou. We were rehearsing a project when Tiécoro showed up and asked if we could listen to his demo tapes. We were immediately struck by his classic Kayes’ Djeli singing and phenomenal solo guitar style. Tiécoro shines in his “Djeliya” with the skilled Djeli N’goni of Adama Tounkara musically conversing with Camara’s melodic Kora. In stark comparison to “Afro Pop” this album is a testament to the raw musicality of the Djelis from the Kayes Region of Mali.”
Tiécoro Sissoko was born in 1946 in Kenieba, in the Kayes Region of Mali. He is from a large family of musicians. His father was the chief of the village Griots and his mother was a renowned singer. The first instruments he played were tamani and n’goni. Among his earliest musical influences were two of his brothers, one a kora player, and the other a guitarist, Djelimady Sissoko.
When Tiécoro first moved to Bamako in 1968, his brother Djelimady helped him buy his first guitar. It was then he began studying with his brother, devotedly. Always eager to learn more, he used to pick up songs by listening to the radio. He has played with many artists such as Mangala Camara in Kenieba, and Zani Diabate in Bamako, and in various groups, including Bama Sabba and Bambara Percussion Group. He formed his own band called Super Sabaiya, which later became Tomonkorobogou Fulani, with a variety of artists including Duga Sissoko.
Tiécoro passed away in May of 2012, before his first album Keme Borama was to be released by K.S.K. Records. He also will be featured in the documentary K.S.K. is producing on the Life and Music of Mali forthcoming in 2014.
About KANAGA SYSTEM KRUSH: KANAGA SYSTEM KRUSH is a fair trade world music label run by a collective of musicians, engineers, visual media artists, and permaculture designers. We are a combination of beat junkies who love Djembe Music, Rumba, Hip-Hop, Reggae, and Jazz among other styles that are part of our music collection. The label is more than just a global music imprint, but also a lifestyle brand that releases feature length films and orchestrates unique collaborations between musicians and styles. The brand has sponsored exhibits like Graffiti Fine Art in Los Angeles and has recorded with Afropean supergroup Les Nubians