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May 12, 2021

Embracing the Kora tradition

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Hailing from Gambia, brilliant young kora player Bajaly Suso sings ancient songs relaying the history of Mandika, Western Africa, as well as original songs based both on traditional themes such as stories of ancient battles or historical figures, and about contemporary life, making every performance unique.

He has been playing and singing the traditional songs of The Gambia for almost 20 years, leading groups and solo, touring the whole of western Africa.

Dressed In traditional robes, singing ancient songs and telling the folk tales of his native land, Bajaly is part of the living legacy of ancient Africa. With a haunting, plaintive voice and prodigious technique on his unique instrument, he has studied at the National Council for Arts and Culture and is mentioned in the Lonely Planet Guide to Senegal and The Gambia with a recommendation to seek him out as a true source of the tradition of the country.

Seven had a brief chat with Bajaly.

BajalyHow important is music in Gambia?

Music is very important in the Gambia because we earn our daily living from music – lots of people like myself.

What about in your family? Was there an expectation of the type of music that you would play?

I expect to play only what I learn from my great-grandfather.

How have you used your traditional musical heritage in informing the music that you play around the world?

Well, I started earlier to travel and study music from Mali in 1986 and am often invited to perform with a musical group in the UK where I get more connections with other music agencies!

What are the enduring themes?

As a travelling artist I gain and learn a lot because of meeting interesting people from different cultures.

What are the major differences you notice between Gambian society and western life?

… very different lifestyle!

What should we expect for your Byron Bay show?

Happiness. And I want to build new friendships with people!

Bajaly Suso appears at Kulchajam in Byron on Saturday. Tickets are $15 at the door, children $5. 8pm.

 

Find this and many other great gigs in Echonetdaily’s North Coast Gig Guide.


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