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Presented in partnership with Celebrating Sanctuary
Online performance, free

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To close Refugee Week Celebrating Sanctuary present a performance by the talented and highly acclaimed Senegalese kora player and singer Kadialy Kouyate.

Kadialy has performed for Celebrating Sanctuary many times, as a solo artist and with his band, and always produces a mesmerising performance. He recorded this solo performance towards the end of lockdown.

Kadialy belongs to a great line of Kouyate griots (West African historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet, or musician) descended from Balla Fasseke Kouyate, the first Mandinka jali who became official griot to emperor Sundiata Keita in the 13th century. Growing up in a family of griots, he played the kora instinctively from an early age. He acquired a great knowledge of songs based on traditional stories, the bedrock of his repertoire. Later, Kadialy fearlessly discarded these established forms and developed his own.

The Mandinka kora is a unique instrument with 21 strings. It sounds somewhat like a harp, but its intricate playing style can be closer to flamenco guitar. The kora originated with the Kabu empire, present-day Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Southern Senegal.

Kadialy kora playing and singing style have been appreciated in many ensembles and institutions. In 2005 he made his UK debut as performer and kora teacher at SOAS University. He has enriched the London music scene with his griot legacy. He has played at venues and festivals across the world, released several albums, and makes regular radio and television appearances, including Later with Jools Holland and BBC Focus on Africa. Kadialy draws on his heritage and its traditional songs to create his own.

Supported by Birmingham City Council and Arts Council England.