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 at Addison Road Community Centre.