Idrissa Soumaoro

Idrissa Soumaoro may not be a familiar name to you. Yet, Idrissa, born in 1949, has some credentials to show. As a teenager, he entered the Bamako Arts college (INA, Institut National des Arts), and subsequently, he went to the UK where he studied as the first non-blind francophone African in musicography in braille and the Royal College, and graduated as a teacher of visual handicapped children at the University of Birmingham.
Back in Mali, he went into teaching, and during 18 years he worked at the National Youth Blind Institute (IJA, Institut des jeunes aveugles), the last three years as the director of that institute. He is still working for the Ministry of Education in Bamako.

Musically speaking, Idrissa is a composer and singer and he plays guitar, piano and kamalen n'goni. He has been the chef d'orchestre of the Ambassadeurs du Motel, where Salif Keita has been the lead singer before he left Mali. In 1969, he has penned one of the most famous Malian songs, Ancien combattant, that has been recorded by other artists from Côte d'Ivoire and Congo to such an extent that few still know that this song is actually from Mali.

Towards the end of the 20th century, Idrissa Soumaoro has been performing at VIP soirées in various hotels in Bamako, together with his ensemble Les Compagnons. In 2003, it was about time that his first album « Kotè » finally is put on the market, offering a view on his talents, with a mixture of blues and Malian rhythms. Apart from a remake of « Ancien combattant », there is a freshness and an original acoustic approach through the use of Hawaiian guitar, harmonium, accordion, as well as flute, kamalen n'goni and percussion instruments.
In 2010, he released another album « Djitoumou », with Ali Farka Touré featuring on the song « Bčrčbčrč », a song that would become famous as part of the soundtrack of the movie Black Panther.

By the way, his son Sidi Soumaoro (Ramses) is part of hip hop band Tata Pound.

Idrissa Soumaoro
 Idrissa Soumaoro with his kamalen n'goni
• Musicians on the album "Kote":
Adama Coulibaly
Boubacar Gakou "Babouya"
And others
Mamou Sidibé, Ramata Diakité backing vocals

Born: 1949 in Ouéléssébougou
Style: semi traditional music / Mali blues

Title Year Label Remarks
Djitoumou 2010 Lusafrica CD
Köte 2003 Wrasse Records WRASS 101 International CD release
Kotè 2003 Syllart Cassette
Idrissa Soumaoro et l'Eclipse de I.J.A. 1978 Eterna 830 084 LP


Page added August 2003