Habib Koite Basic Biography:
Habib Koite (pronounced ha-BEEB kwa-TAY) was born January 27, 1958 in Senegal, but was raised in Mali. Habib Koite is a part of the Khassonké griot caste, and thus comes from a long and proud line of griots, or jeli (storytelling and/or praise musicians in the West African tradition). He taught himself to play guitar, and was eventually accepted into Mali's National Institute of Arts, a prestigious conservatory that has produced many of Mali's finest musicians. Koite still resides in Mali, but tours internationally with his group Bamada.
Habib Koite's Musical Sound:
Habib Koite is a guitar player. Though the guitar is obviously not indigenous to West Africa, Koite links it to tradition by cross-tuning it to match the pitches and ranges of traditional West African instruments like the camelen'goni (six-stringed harp). He plays some traditional songs, but primarily works with his own compositions, which combine the sweeping melodies and chugging polyrhythms of classic West African music with a modern Afropop sensibility and a touch of Latin influence. His backing band, Bamada, includes both old and new instrumentation as well.