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Tickets: $10.00 - member benefits apply


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Balafon master Balla Kouyaté joins his longtime friend and fellow countryman, the acclaimed kora master Yacouba Sissoko for a special program of music from Mali. They are joined by special guest vocalist Adjaratou Demba.

This concert was recorded live at DROM in NYC exclusively for World Music Institute, and features two of the most gifted traditional musicians from Mali. Balla and Yacouba have a long musical history together, as well as  a deep connection between them as lifelong friends. While they do not get the opportunity to perform together often, when reunited they bring out the very best in each other, weaving beautiful melodies and rhythms together with infectious joy. They are joined by vocalist Adjaratou Demba, a fellow Malian and friend, who helps them to shine a light on this beautiful music.  






Balla Kouyaté was born in Mali and was raised in the Djeli tradition. His family's lineage goes back more than 800 years to Balla Faséké, the first of an unbroken line of djelis in the Kouyaté clan who are regarded as the original praise-singers of the Malinké people. Today, the first balafon, over 1,000 years old, remains in his family, guarded by his father, El Hadj Sekou Kouyaté. Since coming to the US in 2000, Balla's collaborations with western artists in a variety of musical styles brought the need for innovation, which led him to create a chromatic instrument using two balafons. Balla's superior musicianship has been featured on over 45 recordings with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Angelique Kidjo, and Vusi Mahlesela.


Malian-born Kora player Yacouba Sissoko descends from one of the most prominent Griot families. At the age of nine, he began learning the kora and the oral traditions associated with it from his grandfather, and later studied at the National Institute of the Arts in the capital city of Bamako. Yacouba incorporates a variety of musical influences into his repertoire, and as such has developed his own unique style of kora. Along with performing traditional Malian music, he has collaborated with well known African musicians such as Youssou N'Dour, Baaba Maal, Sekou (Bambino) Diabate and Kerfala Kante, as well as a variety of international artists including Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon, and Lauren Hill.


Watch a recent WMI PLUS @ HOME event, in which Balla talks with Banning Eyre of Afropop Worldwide about the Griot tradition and demonstrates the balafon.