Artist Profiles: Adama Tounkara

Adama Tounkara is Jelimady Tounkara’s nephew, the ‘guitar hero’ of Malian music, respected conductor of Mali’s Super Rail Band. Adama is one of those many young artists who have specialized in the study of the ngoni, a small, four-stringed traditional lute dating back to the 12th century (like the bala), and which was once played at the court of Sundiata Keita, founder of the Manding Empire.

The ngoni is believed to be the ancestor of the banjo and is part of the colorful sound of traditional and modern Malian music. A difficult instrument, but one which Adama Tounkara perfectly masters. Adama Tounkara is a member of Ballake Sissoko’s ensemble.

Adama played ngoni in Dee Dee Bridgewater’s Red Earth (2007) album. The recording is subtitled “A Malian Journey.” He also participated in Keme Borama (Kanga System Krush, 2013)


In Griot Time: String Music From Mali (Stern’s Africa, 2000)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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