Foday Musa Suso is one of The Gambia’s most famous musicians and a virtuoso kora player. He was born in eastern Gambia in and is thought to be a direct descendent of Jali Madi Wlen Suso the legendary griot who is thought to have invented the kora more than four centuries ago. The griots are like a separate social class in Mandinka culture and operate like a cross between a historian and a musician, creating songs in the memory of people and occasions and also in praise of the land. In the 70s Foday Musa Suso left The Gambia – the first griot ever to do so – and emigrated to Chicago where he has worked with many musicians including Philip Glass, Paul Simon and Herbie Hancock, continuing to this day to make important recordings. Below are a couple of his albums, both available on Spotify. The first, Kora Music from The Gambia, was recorded in Accra in 1976 for the Folkways label, the music label of the Smithsonian Institute; the second, Village Life, a series of duets with Herbie Hancock also featuring an array of percussion players, was recorded live in a studio in Tokyo in 1985.
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