Based in New York City since 1999, Famoro plays solo, in duets, and with other griot musicians. He also mixes this profound and sacred West African musical tradition with some of the hottest musicians in New York today. His dance band, Kakande, plays regularly in Harlem at the Shrine World Music Café as well as in festivals throughout the city. Famoro has also played with world-famous Mory Kanté and Angelique Kidjo, and has performed in Carnegie Hall, Joe’s Pub, and museums and universities across the country.
About the band-- Kakande
Famoro Diouabté is recognised as one of West Africa’s most talented and graceful balafonists. Hailing from Conakry, Guinea, He comes from a long family lineage of griots (or jeli in Malinké), African oral historians and musicians who played in the royal courts since the 13th century.
His Instrument: The balafon is a 23-key wooden xylophone in diatonic scale, crafted by hand in the Guinean countryside. The music forms delightful, looping cross-rhythmic melodies that shift shapes as Famoro emphasises different parts of the song. Griot music is composed for deep listening; the griot sculpts and improvises each song based on the listeners present, in effect creating a dialogue that is meant to be both intellectually challenging and emotionally provocative.
His Lineage: On his father’s side, Famoro descends from the prestigious Dioubaté family of the Kankan region, in Guinea. On his mother’s side, he descends from the great Kouyaté family, the first jeli family named by the great emperor Soundiata Keita in 1235 CE. His maternal grandfather, the late El Hadj Djeli Sory Kouyaté, was a world renowned balafonist, Chef d'Orchestre, and jeli to President Sekou Touré. With this pedigree, Famoro was one of the youngest to play in the National Ensemble Instrumental de Guinée. But quickly, he was swept up to play internationally, first in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, followed by Australia, Fiji, Europe, Canada, and ultimately in the United States, where he makes his home.
A regular on the roster, each month, Famoro's Kakande lights up Shrine World Music venue in Harlem, New York. Arguably the best, long-standing West African dance band outside of Africa since Bembeya Jazz, their loyal fans come out to dance the night away. Famoro started Kakande in 2006 with a CD release party at S.O.B.s featuring the late great Mory Kanté. The music combines traditional Manding griot songs such as those of the late Sory Kandia Kouyaté, re-arranged to combine balafon with modern instruments such as guitar, bass, and drumset played by longtime band members and musical extraordinaries Andy Algire, Sean Dixon, and Raul Rothblatt. The band often welcomes guest artists on kora, tama talking drum, and more, this band sets the groove for an evening of splendor that is sure to inspire its listeners to dance the night away.
His Resumé, in brief:
Famoro has performed with contemporary musical ensembles and artists from Guinea and Mali, including Sekouba Bambino, Mory Kante, and Sekouba Kandia Kouyate, current Chef d'Orchestre of the Ensemble Instrumental de Guinée. He participated in artistic residencies in France in 1994, and since coming to New York City in 1999, he has collaborated in educational programs at the Juilliard School and performed at the MET (2021). His band Kakande plays in music festivals such as Celebrate Brooklyn! Famoro's story of crossing cultures is featured in Anthropologist Lisa Feder's book, Jeliya at the Crossroads (Palgrave 2021).
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———. 2012. Anka Ben Mali Denou. Stepback Music.
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———. 2014. Kontendemi. Self-produced.
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———. 2008. Mansa America. Completely Nuts.
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