Seckou is a descendant of the Malian Keita family of kings and his mother’s family, the Cissokhos, are a griot family (hereditary musicians). Seckou was born in Ziquinchor Senegal, where he started his apprenticeship on the kora. By his early teens he set out to master a variety of drumming techniques: the seourouba, djembe and sabar drums. His grandfather eventually granted Seckou the right to become the ‘family drummer’ and practitioner of a griot form of percussion called jali dundun. Seckou is now an internationally renowned artist both of the kora and the djembe. As well as touring and recording with his own groups, such as The Seckou Keita Quintet and as a soloist, he has collaborated and recorded with many artists including Mamady Keita, Youssou N’Dour, Salif Keita and more recently with Welsh classical harpist Catrin Finch with whom he recorded award winning album Clychau Dibon. Seckou’s current solo kora album 22 strings has been receiving rave reviews and sell out tour dates. In addition to reaching world music superstar status as a kora player and composer, Seckou has remained an exceptionally popular djembe player and in demand teacher who has been running workshops and courses in the UK and internationally since 1999.
MOHAMED SIPA SYLLA
Abene is also populated by a number of Guinean musicians and dancers. One of the most highly respected of these is Mohamed Sipa Sylla. Sipa has been running workshops and classes for many years and is a popular choice for djembe students who visit Abene.
“I really enjoyed Sipa’s classes, he and his group delivered high quality teaching which was engaging and energetic. He was very clear and understood the level we needed, and we learnt several new rhythms which were challenging and exciting. A great two weeks!”
“By the end of my time with Sipa I felt that I had learned an enormous amount to point where I felt confident performing it in front of a crowd. All this he managed while making the sessions themselves fun and engaging.”
“I had a great time learning from Sipa. The rhythms he taught us were really well structured and posed each of us a challenge. His teaching style is engaging and encouraging and he makes sure everyone understands a rhythm and can play it before moving on. He encourages soloing in very supportive way – even if you’ve not tried it before. He taught us an amazing amount which he supported us to learn daily. I’m really looking forward to learning from him again!”