‘We Are Together’ is the new collaborative album from Tiègnouma (beauty) Kê baw (makers) and John Meade. The perfect blend of cultures old and new, the album brings together the traditional sounds of Mali and Appalachia.
John Meade is a folk artist whose speciality is playing the banjo. Banjo music from the Appalachian region of the USA has its roots in West Africa, and Meade tells how the collaboration came about:
“A traditional Malian Griot named Fode Kouyate, who plays the djeli ngoni (grandfather to the banjo) reached out to me after hearing a traditional Appalachian banjo tune I posted saying “It is the same””.
The album serves as a celebration of the connectedness that is to be shared between contrasting cultures, and highlights the similarities we all share, regardless of where in the world we come from.
The nine track album explores a unique soundscape, with traditional mali instruments played alongside Meade’s banjo. Instruments such as djeli ngoni (the 4-5 string lute), kora (a 21 string instrument), calabash drums, taman drums, and rattles and shakers are showcased on the recording, showing their versatility.
Opening with ‘Da Monzon (Warrior King)’, a soothing and catchy track, each tune evokes a different way to look at music, and a new take on folk sounds. It is very easy to lose yourself in the music, and be transported on a wave of both the familiar and new, combining in a way that is not only very appealing to the ear but also very catchy.
The group Tiègnouma (beauty) Kê baw (makers) comprises Mali musicians Moise Sagara, Fode Kouyate, and Bou Diabate.
The trio have an incredible wealth of musical talent and experience between them, with frontman and calabash player, Moise Sagara a professor of drums and percussion at the Conservatory of Arts and Crafts in Bamako, Mali. Sagara has played with some of the most talented Malian musicians, including Cheick Tidiane Seck, Salif Keita and Koko Dembele.
Fode Kouyate, on the djeli ngoni, is a traditional Malian griot (storyteller and musician), while Boua Diabete is an incredibly talented kora player.
John Graham Meade is a traditional clawhammer banjo player, who has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts for his music.