Rwanda: Koite Brings Malian Rhythms to Kigali – UMUSEKE – News indeed
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Habib Koite will be leading the way for a host of local and internationally acclaimed artistes when the KigaliUp music festival kicks off today at Amahoro National Stadium. We all know that he is a world musician and that he plays his guitar on open strings, but what else do you know about the man that is here to headline the two-day KigaliUpFestival?

Habib Koite ,the Malian gifted musician

Musical roots:

Habib Koité was born in 1958 in Thiès, a Senegalese town situated along a railway line which his father helped construct. He comes from the noble line of Khassonké griots, who traditionally provided wit, wisdom and musical entertainment at social gatherings and special events.

Koite grew up surrounded by 17 brothers and sisters, and developed his unique guitar style accompanying his griot mother. He inherited his passion for music from his paternal grandfather who played the kamele n’goni, a traditional four-stringed instrument associated with hunters from the Wassolou region of Mali.

But nobody really taught him how to sing or to play an instrument. He just watched his parents and relatives while at it, and it just washed off on him.

Initially bound for a career as an engineer, Koite soon found himself pursuing music at Mali’s National Institute of Arts (INA), after his uncle insisted music was his true calling.

Indeed, while at INA, Koite soon proved his uncle right and in a big way. Just six months after he had enrolled, he was made conductor of INA Star, the school’s prestigious band. He studied music for four years, graduating at the top of his class in 1982.

So impressed was the school with his talent, it immediately hired him as a guitar teacher.

Uniquely gifted:

One of the things unique about Koite is his approach to the guitar, which he tunes to the pentatonic scale and plays on open strings just as he does with his native kamale n’goni instrument.

His singing style is markedly restrained and intimate, with varying cadenced rhythms and melodies.

The music of Mali is rich and diverse, with many regional variations and styles that are particular to the respective local cultures. Koite is unique because he brings together different styles, creating a new pan-Malian approach that reflects his open-minded interest in all types of music. The predominant style played by Habib is based on the danssa, a popular rhythm from his native city of Keyes. He calls his version danssa doso, a term he coined that combines the name of the popular rhythm with the word for hunter’s music (doso), one of Mali’s most powerful and ancient musical traditions

The New Times

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