Last week, on 10 April 2008, at the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music 2008 winners announcement ceremony held at London’s Dingwalls, Bassekou Kouyate was declared ‘Best African Act’ and made a surprise appearance to pick up the award. Segu Blue had already been announced the winner of the ‘Album of the Year’ Critics Award in December 2007 beating strong competition by Andy Palacio’s Wátina, Orchestra Baobab’s Made In Dakar and Tinariwen’s Aman Iman. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba were also nominated in the ‘Best Newcomer’ category.
It’s been a truly amazing journey for Mali’s new superstars ngoni virtuoso Bassekou Kouyate and his band Ngoni ba since the release of their debut album Segu Blue in March 2007. In just over a year Bassekou Kouyate‘s career has turned him from being a respected musician performing alongside artists such as the late Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate into a World Music star in his own right.
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba will be performing alongside other winning artists, Mayra Andrade, Juldeh Camara & Justin Adams, Sa Ding Ding and Son de la Frontera, at the winners concert, which for the first time will be held at the Royal Albert Hall in London and as part of the BBC Proms on 30 July 2008.
Before then Bassekou Kouyate will be appearing at two dates of the Recapturing the Banjo tour, the new live project by award-winning blues banjoist Otis Taylor. Originally played by slaves who built banjos out of scrap materials in an attempt to recreate the West African ngoni, the banjo has gone on to become one of the great American instruments, and played a pivotal role in jazz, blues, country and bluegrass music:
– 27 April at The Sage2, Gateshead | 0191 443 4661) – Otis Taylor, Guy Davis, Don Vappie, Corey Harris & Alvin Youngblood Hart plus special guest Bassekou Kouyate (solo)
– 28 April at the Barbican Hall, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS | 0845 120 7550 | Tickets £10/15/20) – Blues: Back to the Source with Otis Taylor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Corey Harris, Don Vappie, Guy Davis + Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba (double bill)