N’FAMADY KOUYATE - Thekla Bristol

N’FAMADY KOUYATE

Thekla

N’famady Kouyaté is a young energetic master musician from Guinea (Conakry), who relocated to Cardiff (Wales) in 2019. A talented multi-instrumentalist who wowed audiences across the UK and Ireland during autumn/winter 2019/20 with his modern interpretations of traditional West African Mandingue songs and rhythms supporting Gruff Rhys on the Pang! album tour. N’famady’s primary instrument is the balafon – the traditional wooden xylophone, sacred to West African culture and his family heritage of the griot/djeli. In Guinea he founded ‘Les Héritiers du Mandingue’ a tradi-modern group that toured extensively in West Africa.

In the UK N’famady has played both as a solo artist and with a full band line up – where his arrangements are a fusion of Mandingue African with western jazz, pop, indie, and funk influences provided by an ever-evolving collective of musicians. Instrumentation includes balafon, keyboards, drumkit, djembe, guitar, bass, kora, doundoun, congas, saxophone, trumpet, & callabash. N’famady’s performances create amazing atmospheres and vibrations wherever he goes, and audiences are charmed by his infectious enthusiasm and joy.

During the 2020 lockdown N’famady participated in a number of online events including DarloDrum Fest, Ara Deg festival online, Out Of Focus Wales, and Gwyl 2021 festival – but due to COVID-19 restrictions was only able to do solo sets. N’famady did play one pop up (socially distanced) gig with a full band line up, plus special guest Gruff Rhys, as part of Butetown Carnival in Cardiff Bay in September 2020. The Summer of 2021 however saw the band performing at the Wales Millennium Centre, Llangollen Fringe Festival, and taking Green Man Festival by storm headlining the Chai Wallah stage.

N’famady released his first EP in July 2021, recorded in the legendary Rockfield Studios, with a full band line up, including guest appearances from Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), Lisa Jên Brown (9Bach), and Kliph Scurlock (The Flaming Lips). The EP features mash-ups of traditional Guinean songs with new Welsh lyrics, modern & traditional instrumentation, played by a ten-piece band. N’famady has a steadily growing fanbase both in the UK and West Africa.

2022 was a huge year for N’famady. He had a busy summer of festivals (including Cambridge Folk, The Great Estate, Underneath the Stars, Rhythmtree, Sidmouth Folk, Purbeck Folk & Belfast Mela) ahead of a debut 20 date UK tour in the autumn. 2023 is set to be busier still, following with a trip to the US in March (including an appearance at South by Southwest) as well as main stage slots at several major UK summer festivals, such as Latitude and Shrewsbury Folk. N’famady won the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition in April this year, further signalling a bright future for this rising star.

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