Kaouding Cissoko

Kaouding Zissokho, musician, was born November 2, 1964 and died July 18, 2003. The kora, the most beloved instrument of the Griots, is the musical caste of West Africa’s Wolofs and Fula. It is a cross between a guitar and a harp, with 21 to 24 strings. Its striking appearance – a gourd-shaped bottom that players place in their groins – and its beautiful, ringing sound have made the kora West Africa’s most beloved instrument. Kaouding Cissokho died from tuberculosis at the age of 38. He was widely regarded as one of its masters. Kaouding Cissokho was born in Tamba Counda (eastern Senegal), the son of Banna Cissokho, an oral historian and kora player. He would have studied kora under his father if he had been born to a griot family. His parents sent him to vocational school to become a carpenter. Kaouding, along with his brother’s cora, decided to learn how to play the instrument from Cheick Diabate. He is a great guitarist. He became a more experimental musician than his family’s traditional players. When he traveled the world, he added double-bass pickups to enhance the ringing sound of his kora above all the keyboards and electric guitars. Kaouding started by accompanying griot praise singings. He recited the stories and accomplishments of their employers, creating beautiful melodies with his fluid fingerwork. Baaba Maal, a Senegalese singer who ranks second in international following, was his partner. Soon Kaouding was performing in Europe, America and Asia. Maal liked his energy and joy. His desire to experiment, which is what made him a popular player among aficionados, led to him recording with Senegalese rappers PositiveBlack Soul and the late Pakistani qawwali artist Nusrat Fateh Al Khan. He also recorded recordings with Ernest Ranglin, a Jamaican jazz guitarist, in Search Of The Lost Riddim (1998). His light melody was the perfect accompaniment for Ranglin’s brilliant lead guitar. Advertisement Kaouding is a co-founder and original member of Afro-Celt Sound System. It was established in 1996 during a Real World recording week. The collaboration was made at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studios in Wiltshire. It follows each summer’s Womad Festival. Although it was a messy process, Real World’s best-selling album featured a mix of west African and Celtic instruments with electronic dance rhythms. Kaouding was a key contributor to the development of the Afro-Celts. Although he couldn’t become a full-time Afro-Celt due to his commitment to Maal, he helped to make them a popular summer festival staple. Kaouding was invited to join Maal in New York, November 1998, for the Red, Hot And Rhapsody George Gershwin tribute concerts. Bess, You Is My Woman’s kora lines sparkle and shine. Maal’s 2001 album Missing You, (Mi Yeewnii), was celebrated as a triumph. Much of that praise must go to Kaouding and his beautiful kora rhythms. In 1999, he released his solo album Kora Revolution. Kaouding was ill for several weeks. He thought he had been cursed and visited many witchdoctors. Maal encouraged him to seek hospital treatment, which was expensive in Senegal. He was finally diagnosed. His tour manager said that Kaouding was “one of most kindest and most generous people you could ever meet.” From www.theguardian.com

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