Seckou Keita has arguably become the most influential and inspiring kora player of his generation and an exceptional and charismatic musician.
In his new album 22 Strings, Seckou explores what it means to be a modern global citizen, and yet to live with seven centuries of tradition and heritage expressed through music.
“He gives us the kora in its purest guise, a wondrous instrument that can soothe the bloodlust of warriors and take the human spirit to a place of deep meditation, stillness and beauty”
A true master of this West African harp – Seckou, from the Casamance area of Southern
Senegal, was a childhood prodigy, born of a line of griots and kings. Cissokho, his mother’s family
name, gave life to his talent; Keita, his father’s, gave him royal blood. Seckou has graced the international stage since 1996, earning worldwide acclaim for his kora playing and appearing with a host of fellow artists including Salif Keita, Yossou N’Dour, Miriam Makeba and Neil Finn.
The title of the album says it all. Centuries ago, when the djinns, the spirits of the African bush, gave the first ever kora to the griot Jali Mady ‘Wuleng’ (Jali Mady ‘The Red’) it had 22 strings. Then, when Jali Mady died, his fellow griots took one string away in its memory. But back in its birthplace in southern Senegal and Guinea Bissau, the 22-stringed kora survives, with the extra string giving the instrument special advantages in terms of tonal reach and groove. For Seckou Keita, that one extra string represents home: the place where his heart resides.
“Variously described as a ‘griot (praise singer), composer, djembe master, virtuoso and pioneer’, Seckou is a rare type of musician, seated in tradition whilst constantly pushing the boundaries of his art”
His last two albums Miro and The Silimbo Passage hit No.1 in the European world music charts, and Clychau Dibon, the fruit of his collaboration with welsh harpist Catrin Finch, won fRoots Critics Poll Album of The Year 2013, Songlines Magazine Best Cross Cultural Collaboration 2014, and two BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominations (Best Duo and Best Traditional Track) as well as a clutch of 4 and 5 star press reviews. 22 Strings is released on the ARC Music Productions International Ltd label.
Seckou is joined on this tour by Welsh poet, writer and singer, Gwyneth Glyn, showcasing her heritage in her own mother tongue.
This is a co-production with Seckou Keita, Theatr Mwldan and supported by the Arts Council of Wales, Welsh Government and the National Lottery, and the Arts Council of England.