Five things with Sibo Bangoura from Keyim Ba

Five things with Sibo Bangoura from Keyim Ba

1.Growing Up

I grew up in Conakry, Guinea on the west coast of Africa. Growing up, the three most important things to me were family, music and soccer. Both my parents were musicians, my father a master balafon player and my mother a singer. I would perform with them from a young age just as my own children do with me now. I was born into a Griot family – the traditional storytellers and custodians of culture through music and dance. Life in Guinea was simple – do my studies, drum for hours with the rehearsing local ballets and play soccer. It is no surprise that I am now a professional musician – music is in my blood.


Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour, Baaba Maal, Hugh Masekela, Amadou & Mariam, Toumani Diabaté… just to name a few. These musicians have inspired me to take my music around the world and fulfil my role as a Griot to keep West African music traditions alive. I have also been inspired greatly by some of my generation of local Guinean artists who have brought the genre of African rap to the forefront.

3.Your Band

Keyim Ba is a band that tries new things and embraces the traditional and modern, fusing them together for a unique, funky sound. Each musician in the band brings their expertise and creativity to the songs and our energy onstage is huge. I’m joined by percussionist Yacou Mbaye from Senegal on talking drum, sabar and congas, Jonathan Pease on lead guitar, the funky Tina Harris on bass, Blair Greenberg on rhythm guitar, Calvin Welch holding it all together on drum kit and Paula Baxter adding her soulful vocals to the mix.

4.The Music You Make

Keyim Ba’s music is current, edgy and truly representative of the Afro-Aussie that I have become. Many songs are based on traditional rhythms and songs with a twist of funk, reggae and rap. The band is incredibly tight, with breaks and rhythm intros that require precision and accuracy to pull off.

5.Music, Right Here, Right Now

Let’s be honest, the live music scene in Sydney is tough – that’s why I find myself travelling interstate regularly for my profession. Having said that, you gotta love the vibe in places like 505 in Surry Hills and places like Lazybones and Camelot Lounge in Marrickville and Jam Gallery in Bondi Junction. A shout-out to these places for keeping the spirit of interesting live music alive in this city. There are so many awesomely talented musicians out there doing some unique and funky fusions. Hopefully the Sydney music scene isn’t further squashed by regulations and the lure of replacing stages with pokie machines.

African Rhythm & Roots Festival 2016, with Keyim Ba,King Tide, Afro Moses, Chris Gudu and more, happens Saturday November 5 atAddison Road Community Centre.

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Five Things with Sibo Bangoura from Keyim Ba

Five Things with Sibo Bangoura from Keyim Ba

1. Growing Up

I grew up surrounded by music and dance. I was born in Guinea, West African into a griot family (musician family). Griots are the keepers of tradition through music. My mother was a singer and my father a balafon player. Wherever my parents performed when I was a child, I would go with them. Music has always been a part of my daily life. I can’t even remember when I started playing the djembe.

2. Inspirations

Many of West Africa’s greats have always been my inspiration such as Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour, Baba Maal, Fela Kuti. Of course Bob Marley was a figure in my youth growing up in West Africa. I am more lately inspired by several more contemporary groups which are coming out of West Africa and France, who are heavily influenced by hip hop and rap. I am inspired by a fusion of tradition and urban, today.

3. Your Band

Keyim Ba is a nine-piece big band that is like my family now. My brother Mohamed Bangoura joins me onstage, as well as Yacou MBaye from Senegal on percussion, Moussa Diakete from Mali, the former guitarist to Salif Keita on lead guitar, and Simon Olsen of Electric Empire on bass. We are joined also by Sydney musician Blair Greenberg on guitar, Julian Belbachir on kit, Miriam Lieberman, and my partner Rachel Bangoura on the dancefloor. It’s an awesome group of really talented musicians – I feel very lucky to work with them so closely. We have a lot of fun!

4. The Music You Make

We recently recorded our new album Mami Wata at The Grove Studios and Rifton Records with some great guest artists including Lamine Sonko (One Africa), Jason Heerah (Electric Empire), Danny G. Felix, Nick Garbett and Matt Ottignon to name a few.

The official album launch is set for Friday November 22 at The Basement, Sydney.

5. Music, Right Here, Right Now

Keyim Ba have just been on a national tour supported by Playing Australia and Arts NSW so we are feeling pretty good about the live music scene at the moment! Having said that though, I think the toughest thing for musicians is how to make ends meet when music is your full-time gig and not just a hobby on the side. All the members of Keyim Ba are professional, full-time musicians.

We are slowly overcoming the hurdles of the industry – the more we push, the more we are known, the easier it becomes to land gigs and festivals. It was tough covering costs to get our album out recently but we did it independently and are really proud of that.

I would like to see the world music genre become more supported overall in the Sydney scene – thank goodness for venues such as The Basement, Camelot Lounge, 505, Jam Gallery and the crew booking those venues who continue to support the development of this genre.

Keyim Ba appear at the West African Festival, Saturday November 16 at Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour. Details at

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