Ismael Lô

Ismaël Lô was born from a Peul mother from Niger and a Wolof father who was working in Niamey. Ismael grew up in Rufisque (Senegal), where his family came from. Already as a child, he made his own guitar with recycled materials. He also learned to play the mouth-organ and he fixed it to the wall to have his hands free to hold the guitar at the same time. With Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix and Wilson Pickett as inspiration, he was presented to the public at the age of fourteen, playing the two instruments at the time for the national television.

In 1979, he joined Super Diamono de Dakar, and several albums were recorded, such as « Ndaxami » and « Mam ». In 1984, Ismael started his solo career, with Vieux Faye, a guitar player, Sélé Thiam, former sax player of Super Diamono and Thio Mbaye, percussionnist of the Ballets d'Afrique Noire. Apart from numerous local cassette productions in Senegal, he recorded a number of albums in Europe. His popularity in Senegal was almost immediate. His music, a mix of softer guitar melodies with soulful vocals and the up-tempo mbalax rhythms, as well as the lyrics, addressing social issues and politics, contributed to the success.

The international recognition came with the compilation album « Jammu Africa » in 1997. His duet with Marianne Faithfull on that album brought considerable international exposure. Over the years, he has worked with various Senegalese and international artists, for instance with Fode Kouyate, Demba Dia, Alioune Kasse, Marone & Co, Thione Seck, Bisso Na Bisso, Africando, Stephan Eicher and Jane Birkin. In 2004, he toured extensively in Southern and East Africa, ending in Morocco. In October 2006, his last album « Sénégal » was released.

Ismaël Lô
Ismaël Lô  

Born: August 30, 1956, in Dongo Buti, Niger
Style: Mbalax, afro-folk, afro-pop

Title Year Label Remarks
Gor Sayina 2020 Syllart SYLLREC0320 LP reissue
Senegal 2006 AZ (Universal)
Classics Titles 2006 Cantos Compilation album
Dabah 2001 Mercury (France) 548 858-2 / Universal Also on Wrasse Records WRASS043
The Balladeer - Best of Ismael Lô 2001 Wrasse Records WRASS 031 Compilation album
Tadieu Bone 1999 Sono CDS7053 Compilation album
Jammu Africa 1997 Mercury 314 534 233-2
Iso 1994 Mango 522362-2
Ismael Lo (Tajabone) 1991 Barclay 847972-2
Diawar 1989 Syllart 38759-2 Also on Stern's STCD 1027
Natt (+ Bonus hits Xalat, Xiif...) [n.d.] Syllart 38740-2 Compilation album with tracks from Xalat, Xiif, Natt
Natt 1987 Syllart SYL 8335 LP
Xiif 1985 Syllart SYL 8321 LP
Xalat 1984 Syllart SYL 8314 LP
Gor Sayina 1981 Syllart Production MIMI B-S 15155-03 Ismaïla Lô - l'homme orchestre

Toshiya Endo's African music discography, a comprehensive list (incl. local productions)

Page added October 1998