Tag Archives: Guinea Bissau

Artist Profiles: Guto Pires

Guto Pires

Guto Pires is a guitarist, singer and composer from Guinea-Bissau. He moved to Portugal in the late 1970s.

Guto played in many bands such as Issabary, Sons da Fala, and Sons da Lusofonia. All these were All-Star bands that included some of the best musicians from the African countries that speak Portuguese. Guto toured Europe, Africa, America and Asia with these and other bands.

He performs his own pieces that talk about Africa, specially Guinea-Bissau, as well as popular songs.


Sol Na Manssi (Ocarina, 2002)


Artist Profiles: Nino Galissa

Nino Galissa

Bubacar Galissa Kouyaté, better known as Nino Galissa, is a songwriter and kora player born in Gabu (Guinea Bissau) where he grew up steeped in the world of the kora. He currently lives in Spain.

Nino is the descendent of a Manding jali (griot) family, the fathers of West African music, counselors to kings and jealous guardians of the Manding musical heritage for centuries.

The jalis work as social historians relaying chronicles from one country to another. Consequently Nino, with a view to adapting this role to the present day, began to compose songs with a social end according to the need of people to witness the lived and the yet to be lived. For periods of crisis, encouragement, periods of plenty, a reminder of those less fortunate. In times of suffering, sympathy, and a recognition of the priceless value of the happier times.

In 1997 he recorded his first album, “N’Namolu” (My People), where he fuses traditional West African music with pop, funk, reggae and jazz. The album included lyrics written in Mandinka, Creole, Portuguese, English and Spanish that deal with social problems, class inequality, the cruelty of the human being, love, and peace. In December 2000, Spanish label Ventilador Music released it worldwide.

In 2002 his second album was published, “Djambadon” (“Ritmo de las hojas”) produced by Nino Galissa himself. His professional career began to expand by showcasing at various international events. The following year he was selected as “Upcoming Artist” by the AIE (“Association of Performers of Spain”) to carry out a tour at national level within the program” Artists in Route”.

In 2004, Nino Galissa released his third album “Mindjer” (“Woman”), projecting his career as a musician internationally. A disc dedicated to women that generated the “Tour Mindjer.”

“Mindjer” is born out of the sadness that Nino Galissa felt after learning about the numerous and frequent cases of domestic violence. “Mindjer” featured kora combined with percussion instruments, and with dance, a very special show based on African roots along with Afropop. In June of 2004, he presented his first music video: “Afri Mansaya”.

In 2009, he released: “Africa Today”, where he reflects the Africa with which he dreams: where hunger, misery, war, disease, and death (pushing the youth to migrate) cease to be news, with music taking its place. Music as the protagonist and symbol of union among all Africans, and of solidarity with them. For this reason, all the songs on the album carry a message of Hope, Love and Peace, integrating all the styles of the current Music of Africa.


N’Namolu (Ventilador, 2000)
Djambadon (Ventilador, 2002)
Mindjer (Ventilador, 2004)
Africa Today (2009)


Artist Profiles: Bidinte


Jorge Da Silva Bidinte – a multi-faceted musician: composer, vocalist, guitar player, percussionist – represented one of the most genuine voices coming from the mingling of Creole and mixed-race cultures in Guinea-Bissau (West Africa).

Bidinte was born and brought up in Boloma, a small port city in the Bijagós Islands, whose streets, docks and daily life were constantly permeated by music. When the time came for Bidinte to start secondary school his family moved to Bissau where they happened to settle in the Ajada neighborhood, the meeting point of musicians from all over the city.

In 1978, Bidinte took part in the Youth Festival of Havana (Cuba). A decade later he traveled to Lisbon (Portugal) to play for a conference of journalists, where he met a group of musicians led by Justino Delgado, together with whom he set up a new band, Docolma, and made three records. Bidinte was invited by a nightclub to give several concerts in Madrid (Spain) in 1992. “I immersed myself in the night life, absorbing flamenco music, a music which I feel deeply attracted to,” said Bidinte as he described his experience in the Spanish capital. He decided to stay and settled in Madrid.

This is how he has achieved and developed a stimulating fusion between Afro-Portuguese rhythms, the Guinean gumbé, and flamenco sounds. After collaborating in Spain with other artists as a percussionist, composer and singer, Bidinte has made his way into the recording studio to present his own music.

Kumura, his first album, was realized thanks to Bidinte’s musical talent, bottomless creativity – encouragingly praised by David Byrne, who was present at the recording sessions -, and the invaluable contribution of artists such as Jorge Pardo, Paco Cruz, Camillo Edwards, Pap N’Diaye, Edú Nascimento and Dino del Monte.

During his final years, he lived in Almendralejo (Badajoz), Madrid and Guinea Bissau, where he led music workshops for children and brought musical instruments donated by his Spanish friends.

Bidinte died in 2015 of a heart attack. His daughter Alana continues the family tradition as vocalist in the acclaimed Madrid band Cosmosoul.


Kumura (Nubenegra, 1999)
Iran Di Fanka’s (Nubenegra, 2001)


Artist Profiles: Keba Bobo Cissoko

Keba Bobo Cissoko

Keba Bobo Cissoko was born and raised in a jali village in Guinea Bissau. He lived the traditional “Jali” life until he moved to Guinea-Conakry in the early eighties. In Conakry, he became a member of the Ballets Africains and of the Ensemble Instrumental National. He was a founding member of the Merveilles d’Afrique and toured the world with these ensembles.

In 1996, Keba established himself as one of the greatest kora players and singers living in the United States. He taught and performed throughout the country. He was the leader of the Tamalalou ensemble. Keba participated in many groups and recordings; among them: Reginald Yates, Maimouna Keita, Feraba and Fula Flute.

Keba, as soloist and as leader of his group Tamalalou, was featured on the Smithsonian Folkways compilation: Badenya, Manden Jaliya in New York City, released in 2002.

Keba Bobo Cissoko, died February 8th, 2003.


Dougougna Boukalon


Artist Profiles: Binhan


Singer-songwriter Binhanquinhe Quimor, better known as Binhan, was born in 1977 in Guinea Bissau. He grew up in Catio, a town in southern Guinea Bissau.

Binhan became a very popular artist in Guinea Bissau in 2008 with his refreshing songs of love and hope. His committed and realistic lyrics resonated with audiences far and wide. Some of his hit songs include Mariana and Tudo na passa.

In 2007 he joined Super Mama Djombo, a popular Guinea-Bissauan band, as vocalist.


Lifante Pupa (Cantos Music, 2017)


Artist Profiles: Eneida Marta

Eneida Marta
Eneida Marta

Captivating vocalist Eneida Marta was born in Guinea Bissau. Descending from a family of artists, especially her father, who came from Cape Verde, she started singing as a little child, working on her voice and participating in some children’s music contests.

Some years later, after moving to Portugal, she met Juca Delgado, one of the most important African music producers, and started working together, which gave her the chance of taking part in the work of some of the most important African musicians in Portugal, such as Don Kikas, Rui Sangaras, Fernando Santos (Aiaia), Aliu Bari, Punga, Iva and Ichi.

Coinciding with the release of her first album, Nestoria (Maxi Music, 2001), produced by Juca Delgado, Eneida toured Cape Verde, France, Holland, Germany, Guinea Bissau and Portugal.

As the second album became a reality, it revealed a remarkable interest by some international record companies such as Putumayo, Club Star and JPS Production. Finally with Putumayo, and with her track Na Bu Mons, Eneida took part in a compilation dedicated to the music in the former Portuguese African countries, An Afro-Portuguese Odyssey (2002). In 200,2 Eneida Marta released a second album, a maxi-single, where she pays tribute to Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde African sounds and where she also sings in Arabic, showing her multifaceted artistic side.

Eneida Marta participated in other compilations and also appeared in the albums of renowned African artists. artists.

Eneida and Juca explore a great variety of styles, gumbe, morna, singa, with some flamenco, Gospel and jazz nuances.


Nestoria (Maxi Music, 2001)
Lopekai (Iris Music, 2006)


Artist Profiles: Ze Manel

Ze Manel
Ze Manel

Singer and multi-instrumentalist, Ze Manel is one of the most famous and influential contemporary musician to emerge from the West African country of Guinea Bissau. By the age of seven, Ze, playing drums and acoustic guitar, had become the main attraction of Super Mama Djombo band.

During the 1970’s, this seminal orchestra played a major role in the liberation struggle of this former Portuguese colony. In 1982, Ze released his first solo album Tustumunhos di Aonti, which sounded the alarm over the formation of a new repressive ruling class in Guinea Bissau. The album was a national event (people in Guinea Bissau today still sing the songs from this soulful, relevant album), but the political environment was heating up and Manel’s fans were concerned for his safety. Manel fled his homeland.

This self-exile took him to Portugal, France and, finally, the United States. His American debut album, Maron di mar (Cobiana Records) released in 2001, was an instant success. It received rave reviews from European and American media and was nominated for best album at the All African Kora Music Awards in South Africa, and best world music album at the Just Plain Folks Music Awards in the USA.

He returned with a new album African Citizen (M10). His message in the title track is more global. Ze calls for African unity, peace, and stability in all continents. He delivers his messages Jji the most beguiling of-tenor voices accompanied by his acoustic guitar and percussion. In this release, Ze’s uniquely innovative talent expands the boundaries of both traditional and contemporary Guinea Bissau dance music, creating a new musical genre that is urban yet profoundly steeped in the root. Sung in many languages (Kriol, Portuguese, English, and French), the lyrics are as declamatory and inflammatory as his rhythms are infectiously danceable. Ze sings of love for family and friends, respect for women, compassion for children, social justice, and he poignantly describes the ravages of poverty, prostitution, AIDS, and the dictatorships that repress the advancement of people.

Ze said he faced the challenge of blending cultures while preserving his own. “I am respecting our traditional music, but we want to make more progress towards meeting other cultures.”

The CD Povo Adormecido (My People Are Asleep) was released on August 1, 2006. Sung in Criolu (Creole), English, Portuguese and French, and set to a series of irresistible Afrobeat grooves, the songs speak to the universal longing to live in peace.

The title track pays tribute to the indomitable spirit of the African people, and raises a challenge to all of us to transcend our limitations when faced with the greatest challenges. Other songs (some with lyrics by Zé, some written in collaboration with schoolteacher/poet Uco Monteiro, journalist Tony Tcheka, and Senegalese computer engineer Pierre H Sagna) address the humanity (and inhumanity) of policemen, the homesickness of political exiles, and the inhumanity of selfish African dictators.


Tustumunhos di Aonti (1982)
Maron di mar (Cobiana Records, 2001)
African Citizen (M10 Records, 2003)
Povo Adormecido (2006)


Artist Profiles: Kimi Djabaté

Kimi Djabaté - Photo by Rita Carmo
Kimi Djabaté – Photo by Rita Carmo

Kimi Djabaté was raised in Tabato, Guinea-Bissau, a village known for its jelis (griots), hereditary singer-poets whose songs of praise and tales of history and legends play an essential role in Africa’s musical life. Centuries ago, Djabaté’s ancestors, a wandering troupe of musicians from Mali, traveled to the region and the king of Guinea so loved their songs he invited them to stay and offered them the territory of Tabato. Ever since, the area has been a recognized center for music, dance, handcrafts and other creative arts.

Djabaté was born into a poor but musically accomplished family in Tabato on January 20, 1975. His parents, two brothers and his sister were all professional musicians. Recognized as a prodigy, Djabaté began playing the balafon, the African xylophon, when he was just three years old and soon after learned to play many other traditional instruments.

As a pre-teen he was sent to the neighboring village of Sonako to study the kora, which provided a foundation for subsequent accomplishments as a guitarist. As his musicianship developed, Djabaté also mastered a wide variety of traditional drums and other percussion instruments.

Music was not a past time or a hobby for the young Djabaté, however, and from a very young age he was obliged to contribute to the family’s income by performing at weddings and baptism ceremonies. Djabaté’s early talents proved both a gift and a burden, as his family often forced him to sing and dance against his will, and he had little time to partake in the carefree fun and games of other children his age.

Djabaté’s parents as well as his uncle, provided the young phenom with excellent training in traditional Mandingo music, but Djabaté was also interested in popular African genres such as the local dance music style gumbé, Nigerian Afrobeat, Cape Verdean morna, not to mention western jazz and blues.

In 1994, Djabaté toured Europe as a member of the national music and dance ensemble of Guinea-Bissau, and he decided to settle in Lisbon, Portugal. Djabaté’s move to Europe proved to be one of the most difficult experiences of his life, and he faced many personal challenges adapting to a different culture and society.

After over fifteen years in Europe, Djabaté still remains devoted to the music he grew up with in Guinea-Bissau, although he brings elements of his own influences and experiences to forge a unique and personal sound. In Europe, Djabaté has collaborated with many exceptional musicians, including Mory Kanté, Waldemar Bastos, Netos de Gumbé and others. In 2005, Djabaté released his first solo album, Teriké, which he released independently.

The central theme of Karam, Djabaté’s second solo album, is Africa: it’s social and political realities; the suffering of African people; the fight against poverty; freedom; women’s rights; and love. An expression of his griot roots, Karam pays tribute to the people, soul and spirit of Africa that is at the heart of his music.

Djabaté’s third album, Kanamalu, released in 2016 by Red Orange Recordings, covers themes ranging from political and social issues to emotions and the importance of family.


Teriké (2005)
Karam (Cumbancha, 2009)
Kanamalu (Red Orange Recordings, 2016)


Three Continents Represented at EXIB 2016 Day 1 Showcases

The threat of rain forced organizers to move the EXIB 2016 showcase stage from the Roman Temple of Évora (Templo de Diana) to Praça do Giraldo in downtown Evora. The first artist to appear on stage was Chilean singer-songwriter Nano Stern. Armed with just a guitar and his vocals, he put on a lively show. Nano is deeply influenced by the Nueva Canción Chilena, especially artists like Victor Jara and Inti Illimani.

As I am gradually able to create powerful vibrations, other people can feel the effect that this has; if it is intense, then everything vibrates around it,” says Nano about his work. His discography includes Live in Concert; Las Torres de Sal; Los Espejos; Nano Stern; Mil 500 Vueltas; and Voy y Vuelvo.

Nano’s lyrics are charged with political and anti-establishment messages. Unlike other singer-songwriters in the past, he strums and plays some solos on his acoustic guitar wildly, looking more like a rocker than a folk singer. His one-man show was highly entertaining.


Mariola Membrives at EXIB 2016 - Photo by Angel Romero
Mariola Membrives at EXIB 2016 – Photo by Angel Romero


The next artist scheduled to perform was Ecuadorian singer Mariela Condo. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to make it due to the devastating earthquake in Ecuador. Mariela was replaced by Spanish vocalist, dancer and educator Mariola Membrives.


 Mariola Membrives and Masa Kamaguchi at EXIB 2016 - Photo by Angel Romero

Mariola Membrives and Masa Kamaguchi at EXIB 2016 – Photo by Angel Romero


Membrives performed part of her “La Llorona” show. It’s a mix of flamenco, Latin American influences and jazz. She appeared before the live audience accompanied by bassist Masa Kamaguchi. While Membrives sang with a mixture of flamenco and jazz vocal techniques, Masa Kamaguchi performed serpentine jazz bass lines. It was an unexpected mix that felt like two simultaneous performances on stage, but it worked.


Duarte at EXIB 2016 - Photo by Angel Romero
Duarte at EXIB 2016 – Photo by Angel Romero


The third act, Duarte, brought the passion and charisma of fado to downtown Evora. Duarte started the show saying “Welcome to my square, welcome to our square. It’s good to be back home after so many travels.” Duarte is a native of Evora and has a fado and pop and rock background. He researched traditional Fado lyrics and music and has composed his own songs that form part of his repertoire. In 2006 the Amalia Rodrigues Foundation awarded him the Emerging Male Fado Singer prize.

The audience loved Duarte’s captivating performance. He was accompanied by two outstanding instrumentalists, Pedro Amendoeira on guitarra portuguesa (Portuguese guitar) and Rogério Ferreira on viola de fado (fado guitar).


Pedro Amendoeira at EXIB 2016 - Photo by Angel Romero
Pedro Amendoeira at EXIB 2016 – Photo by Angel Romero


 Rogério Ferreira at EXIB 2016 - Photo by Angel Romero

Rogério Ferreira at EXIB 2016 – Photo by Angel Romero


Duarte has released three albums “Fados Meus” (2004), “Aquelas Coisas da Gente” (2009) and “Sem dor nem piedade” (2015).


Karyna Gomes with Ivan Gomes - Photo by Angel Romero
Karyna Gomes with Ivan Gomes – Photo by Angel Romero


Vocalist and percussionist Karyna Gomes brought the sounds of Guinea Bissau to EXIB 2016. Karyna grew up in Guinea Bissau and was a member of the iconic Super Mama Djombo. She currently lives in Portugal.

During her show, Karyna introduced the gourd water drum played only by women and despite having a drummer, Karyna delivered a set of laid back songs.


gourd water drum - Photo by Angel Romero
gourd water drum – Photo by Angel Romero


Karyna Gomes recently recorded her first solo album, titled “Mindjer“, produced by Paulo Borges. “Mindjer” is a tribute to the strength, determination and courage of the women of Guinea Bissau.

Karyna Gomes’ band included Jose Afonso on keyboards; Hugo Aly on bass; Nir Paris on drums; Ivan Gomes on guitar; and Ibrahima Galissa on kora.


Kalakan at EXIB 2016 - Photo courtesy of EXIB Música
Kalakan at EXIB 2016 – Photo courtesy of EXIB Música


Northern Basque band Kalakan put on a popular show, using drums, the alboka animal horn (hornpipe), the chalaparta percussion instrument and Basque traditional vocals. The trio sings in Basque and their dynamic show was well-liked by the audience.

Kalakan has a new album titled Elementuak that features instrumental and a cappella pieces, combining traditional sounds with newly composed material.

Band members include Thierry Biscary on vocals and percussion; Jamixel Bereau on vocals and percussion; and Xan Errotabehere on vocals, alboka, flute and percussion.

related articles:

The Passionate Music of Alentejo, the Focus of EXIB 2016 Opening Concert

related links:

Nano Stern
Mariola Membrives

Headline photo: Nano Stern at EXIB 2016 – Photo by Angel Romero