March 19, 2011


In rummaging through my computer the other day I stumbled upon another video by that great Malian diva Kandia Kouyaté from her very first appearance on Malian television. I have posted two songs from this same concert before (here and here). But watching this I was again bowled over by the sheer power of her presence - at the age of only 18 (!) - and the total command she displays.

Look for yourself:

Note the cheeky look, after 0'48, followed by that heartmelting smile: isn't she just incredible?!

I gather the song is about good deeds (wale gnouma), about gratitude (wale gnoumandon) and about ingratitude (wale gnoumandonbaliya).
It's just that a mere "thank you" seems so insignificant after watching such a brilliant performance....

March 16, 2011

Balla n'est plus

Off topic: you may have wondered why I haven't been posting as much as before. There are several reasons for this, but the most important two are my discovery that a lot of my original CD's were beginning to disintegrate and - in the last two weeks, and possibly related - a crash of the system hard disk of the computer I use for blogging and music. Both are fortunately under control, - although there is still a lot of work to be done in backing up CD's. But I am hopeful I can increase the frequency of these posts.

Balla Onivogui(l) and Pivi Moriba, December 1999 (photo R. Lokin)
Unfortunately, this is another very sad post. Because I was informed today that Balla Onivogui has died yesterday, March 15, at the age of 75* after suffering a heart attack.

Balla was best known as leader of the wonderful Guinean orhestra from the Syliphone era Balla et ses Balladins. Born in Macenta, he started his career as a musician in Kankan and subsequently was sent to the Dakar conservatoire (musical college) on a scholarship. In 1959 he joined the Syli Orchestre National, where his talent, not just as a trumpet player, but also a leader, caught the eye of the authorities of the young republic. When the Syli orchestre was split up, he was put in charge of one of the sections. This section played at the Jardin de Guinée, a bar dancing, which I am told exists until this day.
As their reputation grew they took on a more independent name: Balla et ses Balladins.

I am sure you will read more detailed information about this great orchestra and its leader on other sites (for example here).

For now I would like to share with you Balla's first album, with the Orchestre du Jardin de Guinée. This was released as the second album of the Syliphone label, and has for many, many years been one of my top favourites of the label. Every single track on this album is a pearl, shining by the pure joy and love of music of Balla, Pivi and all the individuals of this superb orchestra.

To me, Balla Onivogui has reached a rare state of eternity. Through his music he will live on forever....

Syliphone SLP 2 or here

May his soul rest in peace.

* There are sources stating he was born in 1938. Several Guinean sources claim that he was 75 when he died yesterday.