Artist Profiles: Daby Balde

Daby Balde in 2007 – Photo by Sandy Haessner

Daby Balde’s arrangements are based on his Fula traditions from the south of Senegal. They feature the fiddle, accordion and flute alongside the more familiar West African sounds of the kora, acoustic guitar and percussion. With strikingly rich and beautiful melodies, captivating vocals and a repertoire that ranges from euphoric to melancholic, Daby Balde is a West African star on the rise.

Moutarou ‘Daby’ Balde was born on 26 April 1969 in the city of Kolda, Fouladou (an area of the Cassamance region), in south Senegal. Growing up in the Cassamance region, a lush area famous for its deep roots in ancestral values and customs, Daby attended the Koranic School in Kolda.

Born into a noble family, Daby’s decision to pursue music was greeted with numerous objections and, in 1987 he left school and decided to go into exile. Following six months in Guinea and six years in the Gambia (where he began learning the guitar), he returned to his hometown in 1994 and became the lead vocalist for the Kolda Regional Orchestra.

After performing with them for nine months, he began performing regularly in Dakar and Kolda. Subsequently, he played in a large concert organized by the Belgian NGO Vredensaleiden that led to
performances at Flanders Ethno festival and Draunter festival in Belgium.

He now lives in a suburb of Dakar, performing weekly at several city venues and every few months in Kolda, at festivals, weddings and cultural events.

Musically, Daby is influenced by his various travels and experiences and his Fouladou culture. Ethnically diverse, Cassamance has a rich heritage, is geographically placed between Gambia and Guinea-Bissau, and is cut off from the north of Senegal. From the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries, the Portuguese were the only Europeans to have settled and have dealings in the region, and subsequently the music from Cassamance has a particular rhythm (quite different to that of the Dakar sound), which resonates throughout Daby’s music.


Introducing Daby Balde (World Music Network, 2005)
Le Marigot Club Dakar (Riverboat Records, 2009)

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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