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Ba Cissoko

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Guinea-Bissau

Ba Cissoko’s music is firmly grounded in the tradition of Guinean kora music, whilst embracing a wide array of modern influences. It is for this reason that his music is loved by old and young alike in his homeland. The sound is definitely new, which appeals to the younger audience. Yet the older generation of Guineans love it for its strong acknowledgement of their traditional music.

Ba was born in 1967 in the west African state of Guinea-Bissau. Although his father was a prominent kora player with the Djoliba ballet, Ba seemed to show no interest in the instrument which he considered old-fashioned. When Ba was 14, obsessed with football and struggling at school, his uncle and kora maestro M’Baty Kouyaté offered to teach him the instrument. Ba’s musical education involved touring local villages to play at weddings and baptism parties as well as tours to neighbouring countries. After his initial disinterest in the kora, Ba’s enthusiasm finally was sealed when he encountered other teenagers studying the instrument at a kora school in Casamance, Senegal. He spent several months at the school, learning kora tradition.

In 1983 Ba joined the National Children’s Theatre in Conakry, Guinea where he continued his apprenticeship. Two years later he joined the National Instrumental Ensemble of Guinea which was directed by M’Baty Kouyaté. However, Ba was keen to perform his own compositions and he left the group after six months.

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