Bourgie Hall presents

Being a Griot Today

Four Montreal griots, all descendants of prestigious families of the Mandinka Empire, come together for this distinctive concert reflecting Jean-Michel Basquiat’s fascination with these musicians and storytellers from West Africa.

Djely Tapa, voice

Djely Tapa is a singer-songwriter based in Montreal. Her first album Barokan evokes the African blues and the vibrations of the Sahel and is tinged with electro. It won the 2020 Juno award for best Canadian album of world music.

Djely Tapa was born in the Kayes region of western Mali into an illustrious family of griots (djely in the Malinke language – heirs of centuries-old artistic traditions). Her mother Kandia Kouyaté is renowned as one of the great contemporary voices in Mali, while her father Djely Bouya Diarra was a legendary dancer and singer. She has been singing, dancing and telling stories since childhood.

With a powerful, high-pitched voice, incandescent delivery and elegant gestures, Djely Tapa explores a musical language that looks to the world and to the future, synthesizing her musical heritage and incorporating contemporary sounds. Her songs convey a message of strength and hope, giving voice to the struggles of the marginalized. She sings mainly in Malinke, Bambara and Kassonke, but sometimes in French. Djely Tapa is a spokesperson for several causes, especially those that promote gender equality and support women of African descent.

Zal Sissokho, kora and voice

Born in Senegal, he has performed since age 11. At an early age, he also began singing and composing songs in Mandinka and in Wolof inspired by the West African repertory. He perfected his kora playing under the stern guidance of a master of the instrument, Toumani Kouyaté, and then accompanied Senegalese lyricist-composer El Hadj N’Diaye. He set off for Québec in the late 1990s and has played, in particular, with the Diouf brothers, Richard Séguin, the Montréal Jubilation Gospel Choir, Corneille, Monica Freire, Lilison, IKS, Muna Mingolé and Alpha Yaya Diallo. He has also applied his instrument to film music, including Un dimanche à Kigali by Robert Favreau. In Las Vegas, he has participated in the Cirque du Soleil show “O.”

He is most noted for his 2020 album Kora Flamenca, an exploration of the fusion of African kora with Spanish flamenco which won the Félix Award for World Music Album of the Year.

Aboulaye Koné, Mandinka guitar

Aboulaye Koné is a guitarist-percussionist-composer, son of an Ivorian griot. His classic Mandigue style incorporates acoustic and electric sounds. The album Afro Gné nominated for world music JUNO in 2012.

Born in Côte d’Ivoire, Aboulaye Koné is the son of a griot. Burkina Faso, the country where he grew up, is where he learned the rudiments of music as a child. This is how he was initiated to percussions and guitar. Upon reaching adulthood, he was soon noticed by his peers and accompanied some of the big names in African music, including Les Go de Koteba, Sonatata Kondé, Fodé Kouyaté, Tiranké Sidibé, Bambino and Prince Djabaté.

Upon arriving in Montreal in 2000, Aboulaye brought his knowledge to Quebec with his original compositions and his performances of sometimes centuries-old pieces. In 2007 and 2008, he was recognized by the Canada Council for the Arts for Mandinka guitar and by the Conseil des Art et Lettres du Québec for African percussions.

Fa Sissokho, percussion

Fa Sissokho, originally from Senegal, is the descendant of one of the great families of Mandinka griots in West Africa. After arriving in Quebec in 2013, he quickly stood out on the Montreal African scene with his immense talent. Fa is an impressive soloist, he speaks through a rhythmic language of rare intensity and beauty.

Bourgie Hall
Thursday, November 24, 2022 at 7:30pm
To purchase your tickets visit:

In connection with the exhibition Seeing Loud: Basquiat and Music

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