N'gou Bagayoko biography
N'Gou Bagayoko (Mali)
N'Gou Bagayoko has been known among insiders as the guitarist of Nahawa Doumbia*. In fact, an encounter with a music teacher triggered his interest in guitar playing around 1970 when he was in his early twenties.
He worked as a primary school teacher in Bougouni during the 1970s until 1988, but started his musical activities in 1980 accompanying Nahawa Doumbia* who also just started singing.
He learnt playing guitar mainly by listening to the kamalen n'goni, a Malian instrument with 8 strings and a large calebash as a resonance box. The style he plays is inspired by the rhythm of the didadi, the music of Bougouni, and it is this combination of blues (kamalen n'goni) and swing (didadi) which makes his first album so attractive.
The album Kulu consists of five instrumental songs and five songs accompanied by three female singers from the Wassoulou area, Nahawa Doumbia* (his wife), Ramata Doussou Bagayoko** (his daughter) and Maï Sanogo. The music is intimately recorded in N'Gou's house, the guitar put in the forefront, the voices are adding colour, and the sparse use of subsidiary instruments is stressing the lightness and transparence of the recordings.
Style: Guitar music from the wassoulou region.
Musicians on Kulu:
N'Gou Bagayoko >> guitar, ka, carignan;
Nahawa Doumbia >> vocals (3,9);
Ramata Doussou >> vocals (5,8);
Maï Sanogo >> vocals (4), concon barani (2,6);
Maïmouna Keita >> water calebash (4);
Fanta Koné >> concon barani (2,6);
Filifin >> kamelen ngoni.
"Kulu marks the first album for N'Gou Bagayoko, a master guitarist from the south of Mali with a unique bluesy yet distinctly African feeling. The tracks also features three female vocalists who bring us through the album with their sensual, deep, and contrasted voices also compliment these soulful songs. Together, they bring us a fluid and elegant album with sweet rhythm from a long and warm Malian afternoon!"
"I picked Kulu at random yesterday. I figure you can never go wrong with contemporary malian acoustic guitar. As it turns out, the album is gold. Good score.
N’Gou Bagayoko recorded this album in Bougouni, Mali, in 2002 with the help of Frikyiwa’s “nomad” studio. This French travelling sound system has helped loads of musicians in Senegal, Guinea and Mali record quality albums in their home towns. The result is a series of albums called La musique des maquis.
Bagayoko plays his acoustic guitar as if it were a n’goni, creating a cool sound for his Didadi musical style. I also like the way they’ve incorporated ambient sounds like faint footsteps, birds, wind rustling leaves, etc, into the production. This can often sound cheesy in other contexts, but on this album it really adds to the overall feel of the music."
* Nahawa Doumbia is one of the main female singers from the Wassoulou region in South Mali. Her popularity is only surpassed by Oumou Sangaré, but equal to that of Sali Sidibé.
Since her mother died shortly after Nahawa's birth, she grew up with her grandmother in Manankoro near Bougouni. Although her mother predicted shortly before she died that Nahawa would be a singer, her family had tried for a long time to prevent this from happening.
Finally, civil servants from the Ministry of Culture discovered her voice, and she first appeared on stage in 1980 at the biënnale of Bamako. She recorded some 3 albums in the 1980s, before the producer Ibrahima Sylla took her to Paris for recording sessions with Boncana Maiga resulting in the 1988 album Didadi. That was the starting point of an international career. On the albums Didadi, Nyama Toutou, and Mangoni, the approach was to fusion African rhythms and modern recording technology and instrumentation.
** Doussou Bagayoko (or Bagayogo) is a young singer of 19 years old. Daughter of the great Nahawa Doumbia and guitar player N'gou Bagayoko, she had the opportunity to record a CD at such young age.
When she was 11, she already participated successfully in a song contest organised by Radio Mali.
With her debut album, Doussou's voice already makes waves in Mali. The music is basically wassoulou music, but using elements of zouk. The use of keyboards on her debut album could have been left out as Malian music is as expressive as can be, and needs no articifial ingredients.
Those of you that have seen her perform with her mother on the Paris Africolor festival in December 2001 could witness that she enchanted the audience with her voice and her appearance.