Following the critical acclaim of his award-winning collaborative project with Welsh harpist Catrin Finch, the extraordinary Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita comes to Mareel this October as part of his 2015 UK tour.
Variously described as a griot (praise singer), composer, djembe master, virtuoso and pioneer, Seckou is a rare type of musician, seated in tradition whilst constantly pushing the boundaries of his art.
A true master of the kora - a 22 stringed West African harp - Seckou, from the Casamance area of Southern Senegal, was a childhood prodigy. His talent, perhaps, should come as no surprise, given his lineage. On his mother’s side he comes from a long line of renowned griots while on his father’s line he is descended from kings, making him true musical royalty. Seckou has graced the international stage since 1996, earning worldwide acclaim for his kora playing and appearing with a host of fellow artists including Salif Keita, Yossou N’Dour, Miriam Makeba and Neil Finn.
His last two albums Miro and The Silimbo Passage hit No.1 in the European world music charts, and Clychau Dibon, the fruit of his collaboration with Finch, won fRoots Critics Poll Album of The Year 2013, Songlines Magazine Best Cross Cultural Collaboration 2014, and two BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominations.
In his new album 22 Strings, Seckou explores what it means to be a modern global citizen, and yet to live with seven centuries of tradition and heritage expressed through music. He gives us the kora in its purest guise, a wondrous instrument that can soothe the bloodlust of warriors and take the human spirit to a place of deep meditation, stillness and beauty. Even the name of the album is rooted in tradition and mythology. Centuries ago, when the djinns, the spirits of the African bush, gave the first ever kora to the griot Jali Mady ‘Wuleng’ (Jali Mady ‘The Red’) it had 22 strings. Then, when Jali Mady died, his fellow griots took one string away in its memory. But back in its birthplace in southern Senegal and Guinea Bissau, the 22-stringed kora survives, with the extra string giving the instrument special advantages in terms of tonal reach and groove. For Seckou Keita, that one extra string represents home: the place where his heart resides.
Lauren Doughton, Marketing Manager for Shetland Arts said ‘We’re delighted to be welcoming Seckou to Mareel. There is a very healthy world music scene here in Shetland, and we are sure that this will prove to be a very popular concert.’
Seckou is joined by Gwyneth Glyn as support artist. Poet, writer and singer of songs, Gwyneth comes from Cricieth in North Wales and explores her own folk heritage in her own mother-tongue.
Gwyneth first discovered her passion for folk singing through performing with folk band Coca Rosa. Her first album Wyneb Dros Dro, released in 2005, shot straight to the top of the Welsh charts, and snagged her the Best Female Artist award in BBC Radio Wales BBC Radio Rock and Pop Awards in 2006. That same year she was also made the Welsh Childrens' Poet Laureate. Three albums later, Gwyneth has worked with some of the biggest names in music, both in Wales and worldwide. Recently she has been collaborating musician Tauseef Akhtar of Mumbai, India, weaving Urdu poetry and ghazal singing with old Welsh verse, and traditional Indian instruments with Gwyneth’s guitar and voice.
The concert will take place on 31st October. Tickets are available now through Shetland Box Office