Djénéba and Fousco


Mali’s Djénéba & Fousco are a couple, both in life and on stage. They represent the urbane Africa of today, which is both attached to its history and fiercely determined to believe in the future. Challenging the usual clichéd views of the continent’s music, Djénéba & Fousco are plugged into an electric Africa, cheerfully transforming melodies inspired by Mali’s griot (troubadour) tradition into songs sparkling with formidably modern techniques.
Djénéba has one of the most fascinating voices in Mali today. Her juvenile appearance does nothing to mask her impressive mastery of the science of the Djeli griots, the direct Kouyaté descendants of Balla Fasséké Kouyaté, 1st griot of Emperor Soundiata Keita. Djénéba’s art of improvisation and praise charmed all Mali when she took part in the country’s famous national TV talent contest Tounkagouna in 2010 and won by a mile. Ever since that triumph, she has continued to attract an increasingly extensive range of fans.
Guitar in hand, Fousco has joined the ranks of the Kayes region’s greatest songwriters, including such masters as Habib Koïté and Boubacar Traoré. He met Djénéba in the shadow of these giants after following on from her in the 2011 Tounkagouna talent show. Fousco’s assertive vocals displayed an openly Mandingo timbre and he was already combining harmony, blues, melody and groove with extraordinary skill in his songs.
The new first couple of Malian music are as comfortable describing the importance of love for Africa’s young generation as they are alluding to the ordeals of adventurers (Tunkarankés or migrants). Their first album clearly reflects the desire expressed by the young people of Bamako for fun and a brighter future, together with the homesickness for their Kayes homeland felt by those who have been forced to leave it to find work.

Djénéba & Fousco - biography

Djénéba Kouyaté was born into a griot family in Kaye Toukoto. Her childhood lullabies were her parents’ songs of praise performed at griot ceremonies (weddings, baptisms and so on). She took her first musical steps at the age of 7, trained by Hamara Bemba Diabaté and Mamadou Laye Sissoko (Fousco’s father). She then studied at the INA (Institut National des Arts) in Bamako.
Fousseyni Sissoko, aka ‘Fousco’, was born and raised in Kaye Khasso. He began to practice music at the age of 12 with his father Mamadou Laye Sissoko, a distinguished music writer and arranger. He then moved to Bamako to study at the INA before entering the Balla Fasseké Kouyaté conservatoire, where he was awarded a master’s degree in music. During his time as a student, he met Sidiki Diabaté and they joined Iba One’s rap group ‘GGR’. A song they wrote together for the band, Salimou, became a hit in Bamako.
After their successive triumphs in the Tounkagouna contest, Djénéba and Fousco began to work together when they were chosen to participate in a cultural exchange with China. Going on tour gave them a perfect opportunity to put together a repertoire. They...


Djénéba et Fousco - Hakilima (Live au Pan Piper 2018)
Djénéba et Fousco - Kono (Live au Pan Piper 2018)
Djénéba et Fousco - Yiriyoro (Official Video)
Djénéba et Fousco - Regrets (Official Video)
MLBamako, Mali
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Christophe Daubrée

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