The musician, sick for many years, was one of those who put African music on the world sound system.
The memory of African music takes a new blow with the death of the Guinean musician and singer Mory Kanté, who has just succumbed to Conakry following a long illness, his health compromised for many years. After the Cameroonian Manu Dibango (who died last March and with whom he collaborated in the 1980s), it is still an artisan of the planetary success of African productions that is disappearing. The two artists had one thing in common: both stood out with an emblematic title, a big success that had helped to impose Africa on the world sound system.
For Kanté, the equivalent of Dibango’s “Soul Makossa” was his 1980s “Yéké Yéké”, a title he recorded at the start of the decade but whose second version, in 1987, went through almost all frontiers of the globe with its hectic rhythm, its quick choirs, its copper punctuations, its synths and the intervention of the kora, string instrument which he had made a specialty, even if the instrument was not part of the heir family of griots.
“The kora is my first wife,” he declared to “La Dépêche d’Abidjan” seven years ago. It represents a whole story for me. My kora is traveling. Always with me. When I am in first class, she is with me. She has a place that is paid. If you do not accept it, I will cancel your concert! ” The Guinean griot, the son of a Malian woman and a father who was about to become a centenary, was interested very early in modern expressions of music – funk and rock – which he readily mixed with tradition in the 1960s.
From Los Angeles to Paris
He passed the fire test in Bamako by integrating the formation which will have seen the birth of so many African talents: the Rail Band of Bamako, where he rubs shoulders with the singer Salif Keïta, whom he will replace in 1973. But it is in Côte d ‘Ivory that the musician, with a reputation already well established in African countries, is gaining momentum to conquer the international public. He recorded a first album in Los Angeles in 1981 then took off from Paris, artistic crossroads of African musicians where he produced “Mory Kanté in Paris” in 1984 and “Akwaba Beach” in 1987, where we find the second version of “Yéké Yéké”.
Acclaimed in many countries, including Italy, he will rely on his famous title throughout his career. Relaunching his tube with remixes, he boasted of having won sixteen gold records and sold more than 9 million albums.
“The kora is my first wife. It represents a whole story for me “
Posted today at 10:07 p.m.