Master musician and bandleader N’famady Kouyaté offers dates in Sussex on his first UK tour

N’Famady by Andrew Lewis

His Balafo Douma Tour will take place at Chidham Village Hall on November 9; The Star at Guildford on November 11; and The Rosehill in Brighton on November 12.

N’famady released their debut EP in July 2021, recorded with a full line-up, including guest appearances from Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), Lisa Jên Brown (9Bach) and Kliph Scurlock (The Flaming Lips). The EP features mixes of traditional Guinean songs with new Welsh lyrics, modern and traditional instrumentation, performed by a ten-piece band. He is also releasing a new single titled Dere Ma on Welsh label Libertino Records.

N’famady offers modern interpretations of traditional Mandinka songs and rhythms from West Africa. His main instrument is the balafon – the traditional wooden xylophone sacred to West African culture and his family heritage of the griot/djeli. In Guinea, he founded Les Héritiers du Mandingue, a traditional-modern group that has toured extensively in West Africa.

“It’s my very first tour here and it’s been a great vibe so far,” he says. “There is a very good atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been a long time coming. It’s pretty much like my second summer here. I moved to the UK three and a half years ago. I came to visit my friends in 2018 to see if I would like the UK. It was raining a lot and it was very humid but that’s fine. I like the rain. I got married to a Welsh woman in January 2019. We met in Africa in 2017 when she was on a cultural expedition. She was supposed to learn about African culture and African instruments and so on and on that trip I was one of the musicians. I was living in Africa at the time. I’ve always wanted to share my music around the world so this is great. I come from a family of musicians that has spanned generations. I’ve been playing since I can remember, since I was maybe five. Everyone plays music in the family and I’ve always toured across Africa.

“It’s my home now. From time to time I would go back to Africa to visit but I enjoy the music here and I enjoy the festivals you have here. I really like making music here and there is a lot of opportunities. I have my cultural experience in my music, but the change here since I’ve been here is that other influences are coming into my music from things like pop and indie. I’m already down this path and I’m bringing those things into my own music. I have EPs right now and we’re looking to put an album out next year but I have an EP with four songs for this tour. It’s very fun when you’re on tour but it’s also hard work but definitely a lot of fun and it’s a great way to see the country and also meet lots of people.

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