January 28, 2002
Posted: January 28, 2001
She hails from the West African nation of Mali where she has
gained notoriety as a modern day troubadour following a
centuries-old tradition of singers who served as
cornerstones to daily life. Kandia Kouyate plans to share
her unique sound with a Vermont audience in a Middlebury
College concert Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in the
Concert Hall at the Center for the Arts on South Main Street
semi-arid nation of Mali is home to the legendary city of
Timbuktu. Kouyates music is rooted in the tradition of
the Mandinka tribe in which male singers called "Jali"
served a myriad of functions in society including
historians, genealogists, poets, entertainers, praise
singers and counselors. Today, the Jali are mostly
entertainers. Female Jali such as Kouyate are quite popular
and have earned the title "Jalimusa."
embraces her role in modern music, Kouyate has remained true
to her tradition in her appearance and her material. For
example, she performs her interpretations of great epic
story-songs of Mande history, such as the tale of Sundiata,
the 12th century founder of the Empire of
received critical acclaim in Africa and recently in Europe.
Searching for a familiar comparison, The New York Times said
Kouyate has "the charisma and vocal power of the most
commanding American soul singers," although her music is far
from the sound of modern soul.
to guitar and strings, Kouyates ensemble features
accompaniment on traditional African instruments, including
a 21-string harp-lute called a "kora," a xylophone called a
"balafon," and a bass harp called a "bolon."
several recordings in Africa, Kouyate recently released her
first solo compact disc on the Sterns label.
is sponsored by the Middlebury College Performing Arts
Series. Tickets for the performance are $10 for general
admission and $8 for seniors. For information and tickets,
contact the College box office at 802-443-6433.