Seckou Keita

Seckou Keita is a true master of his instrument, a childhood prodigy, born of a line of griots and kings (Keita is the royal lineage, and not traditionally a griot name).

 In line with tradition, Seckou started his apprenticeship on the kora when he was seven years old. No one gave him lessons. He learned by close observation of all the many kora players and musicians in the household. And he learned quickly. Seduced by the diverse rhythms all around him, Seckou also set out to master a variety of drumming techniques; first the seourouba drums with teacher Souti Silamé, then djembe with ‘Machine’ Sylla and sabar with Pa Cor N’diaye. His talent and dedication soon brought him to the attention of the International music community.

The intense rhythm of Seckou’s working life was driven by the desirability of his musical talents and his ability to get along with all kinds of different people. He toured with the Sierra Leonean musician, Francis Fuster, one time sidekick to Paul Simon, Miriam Makeba and Manu Dibango, and with Baka Beyond, whose founders Martin Cradick and Su Hart had befriended Seckou in Ziguinchor a few years before. The pair helped to produce his first solo kora album, Baiyo (Orphan), which was released in 2000 (and subsequently renamed Mali by the record label Arc Music).

Fast forward 14 years and Seckou has proved himself to be a musician almost without equal in his field. A driven, talented musician, with a heart full of tradition and a mind driven to compose, invent and push boundaries, through collaboration, tunings and playing with the genres he understands so well.