Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Nado presents: Solo Cissokko, kora virtuoso

Please join me Thursday, August 6th, for a special in-studio interview and live performance by Solo Cissokho.

He’s received the BBC World Music Awards, been nominated to the Nordic Council’s Music Prize, released hailed albums, played with Youssou N’Dour and Ali Farka Touré and toured relentlessly in Norway and abroad. Oslo-based Solo Cissokho has come a long way since he built his first kora at the age of seven.

Solo Cissokho belongs to the Mandinka-people, a Senegalese minority that makes up for 3% of the population in his country of birth. Solo hails from Ziguichor in the Casamance district, and was born into a family that has seen the art of kora playing being passed from generation to generation through more than 700 years. Other well-known performers from his family include Baka Beyond’s Kausu Kouyate and Seckou Keita. Cissokho maintains a strong and vivid tradition as a griot, a scald that transmits his people’s history, comments on various aspects of his community and accompanies key social events. Solo was introduced to the 21-string harp at the tender age of 7. Says Cissokho on the early days: “I began my career by building my own kora. That way you really learn the characteristics of your instrument.” The first attempts at playing it were accompanied by cries of frustration: “It was so difficult to reach all 21 strings with just four fingers!”