Lamine Konté (1942-2007)

Lamine Konté was a prominent artist who was among the first to bring the kora instrument to a larger public. In addition, he pioneered in fusing the ancient griot music with modern styles and western instruments. He was born in Kolda in 1942, although other sources state that this was in 1945.
On a sideline, there is some confusion with a second Lamine Konté «  Waato Sita  », who is born in 1942 in Bantagnima, near Marsassoum (Sédhiou region). This second Lamine Konté is also a musician and was a leading member of a group from the 1970s, Waato Sita.

The Lamine Konté we address here died in 2007. After his primary schooling in Kolda and first teaching of kora playing by his father Dialy Kéba Konté, he went to Dakar to live with Nago Gučye (Sissokho), his oncle, and the first kora player to have engaged in a world wide tour in the 1930s (!). In the mid-1960s, he enrolled the Ecole des Arts de Dakar, and in 1966 he made his first public appearance as a musician during the Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres de Dakar. For some time, he was part of the ballet Forêt sacrée de Casamance created by Doura Mané.

Somewhat disappointed that the Senegalese public showed little interest for traditional Senegalese music at the time, he settled in Paris in 1971 where he started recording, and a first 2 volume LP set showed from the start his talent for creating harmony by using his kora, his voice and guitar, whilst mixing a variety of styles. For instance, on the first volume, he mixes the sound of his kora with rhythms and styles such as salsa on the track « M'besseyla ». Lamine Konté has been influential in familiarising the non-African public with the kora and with African music, but was also criticised by purists for modernising the ancien griot music.
Lamine Konte
Lamine Konté 

Being a passionate lover of literature and history, he recording poems of Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sedar Senghor on his music on the album « Chant du nègre... chant du monde ». In 1978, he wrote the soundtrack of a French-Senegalese movie by Jacques Champreux starring Sijiri Bakaba, Doura Mane, and Cheik Doucouré about the difficult travel of immigrants from Mali to Paris. He composed the music for a few more movies and, most remarkably, he worked with Stevie Wonder in a musical movie « Journey through the secret life of plants ». Stevie Wonder sings in bambara language on the song « Kesse Ye Lolo De Ye », accompanied by Lamine on kora. In the same year, 1979, Lamine participates in the festival Horizonte in Berlin, where he meets Francis Bebey, Manu Dibango, Xalam and Miriam Makeba.
The 1980s bring along a Japanese tour, resulting in a live album and the album « Song of the Griots ».

Musicians on Senegal, La Kora vol.2:
Lamine Konté kora, lead vocal, composer, musical arranger
Kabiné Kouyaté balafon
Papus guitar, bass
Abou Keïta, Bruno Camara percussion
Janina, Kéba Traoré backing vocals
Pascal Furstenberger piano
Aly Wagué flute

Born: 1942 in Kolda, Casamance, Senegal. Died 29 September 2007 in Paris
Style: modernised folkoric music, kora music

Title Year Label Remarks
Griot Legend 1999 King Records/Seven Seas/World Music Library Live recordings from 1986, Japan
World Sounds: Song of the Griots 1995 JVC CD compilation
La Kora du Senegal vol.2 1989 Arion ARN 64070 CD compilation
La Kora du Senegal 1988 Arion ARN 64036 (new number ARN44036) CD compilation
Afrique, mon Afrique 1982 Arion ARN 33701
Baara 1979 Esperance ESP 165530 OST Bara (Souleymane Cissé)
Bako 1978 Sonafric SAF 61002 With Bozambo Band; OST Bako, l'autre rive (Jacques Champreux)
Tinqué Rinqué 1977 Sonafric SAF 50049
Chant du nègre... chant du monde 1977 Arion ARN 33395
African Safari: 5 jours sous les tropiques 1975 Arion Special Productions Unreleased, specially produced for Citroën employees
Senegal, La Kora vol.2 1975 Arion ARN 33313 Les rythmes, les percussions et la voix de Lamine Konté
La Kora du Senegal 1974 Arion ARN 33179 Les rythmes, les percussions et la voix de Lamine Konté

Nago Seck, on (retrieved September 2009)
Newspaper article Le Soleil, (retrieved September 2009)

Page added October 2009