Mamoutou Dembélé, artistically known as known as Emde, was born into a family of musicians and storytellers in Sikasso, Mali. Since jelis or griots are the safekeepers of culture and tradition communicated from one generation to the next, he grew up in an atmosphere of music, storytelling and inherited dance. He was also called upon to transfer this legacy to others, something he has accomplished since childhood.
A self-instructed musician, he started playing at age 6. Eventually, he also constructed his own musical instruments. He created the bahinu (bahouinou, a man’s strings) that has 15 strings and resembles a cross between a kora and a kamele ngoni.
Emde is a descendant of the Bwa ethnic group, spanning Mali and Burkina Faso. He uses the Bwa and Bambara languages. His style combines traditional Bwa music, Mandinka blues, jazz, funk and reggae.
Emde is also a skilled percussionist. He plays a wide range of instruments, including the tamani, jembe, dunduns, calabash, karinyan, filen and yabara.
Currently, Emde lives in Montreal, Canada.
Emde won the prestigious Syli d’Or award in 2019.
the track “Taro Maro” in Lost In Mali (Riverboat Records, 2015)