Youssouf Karembe - Mali World Music

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Singer, songwriter, guitarist and dancer Youssouf Karembé and his Kumo Band develop music that draws on the rhythms and melodies of the Dogon people, singing in several Malian languages.
His album Girissagou (2012-2013) was supported by the French musicians’ guild, SACEM.

Born on September 15, 1973 in Bandiagara, Mali, Youssouf Karembé learned to play guitar in the 1990s. He joined the Bandiagara city band, Les Echos de La Falaise, as a dancer. Youssouf eventually became the guitarist and sometimes filled in as bassist. After saving up for years, Youssouf bought his own instruments and founded his first group, Yurugu (a figure in Dogon mythology). The adventure was short-lived as it did not follow the rules jointly agreed upon by all members in the formation (6 musicians and 2 dancers). Youssouf moved to the city of Mopti to work as a guitarist with the city band Sagansiré. Two years later, the musician returned to his home town to craft his own style. Taking inspiration from acclaimed Malian artists such as Salif Keita, Boubacar Traoré and Habib Koité, he cultivated his music by combining the traditional, somewhat melancholy Dogon sounds (sandjiré, koju péré, ayolo, anambamba, gona, etc.) with blues, jazz and pop.

Kumo Band
Driven to form a new acoustic band, Youssouf Karembé left in 1997 to spend five months in the village of Dini in the Sangha region. There, he collected, performed and translated traditional songs, with the support of Endielou Dolo, one of the Sangha Masked Dogon dancers. Equipped with his guitar and a digital recorder, Youssouf roamed for years through Dogon villages to meet with elders and a number of top singer songwriters, including Etienne Kéné. On returning, he contacted young musicians from Bandiagara, who were eager to join him in exploring the many Dogon musical styles.
In 2002, the Kumo Band was formed. Youssouf Karembé led the young group as songwriter, guitarist and singer in shaping its own style of Mandingue music. Its sound is based on the traditional Dogon repertoire with songs sung in several of the languages spoken in Mali (Dogon, bambara, peul, songhai, bobo) as well as French.
In 2006 Kumo Band released its first album, Toguna, recreating the musical atmosphere of the Dogon country. The song “Yu Wara” was made into a video produced by the Anthres Multimeios studio based in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“Toguna” means “the chatter hut”. The Dogon people meet in small huts with low ceilings to discuss issues in the village. If any of them gets angry and tries to yell louder than his neighbor, he gets up and immediately hits his head! Toguna is the metaphor for communication and listening.
Recorded in Bandiagara, Mali, this first album by Youssouf Karembé establishes a direct connection between tradition and modernity. Between the raw sounds of the tamani and the percussive rhythms of the calabash, masterfully fused into mesmerizing guitar phrasing and intense bass, the Kumo Band instantly takes us on a journey through the exotic lands of Africa.
In December 2007, he was invited to play at the Cultural and Artistic Festival in Bandiagara, Mali for big name celebrities from around the world and thousands of tourists.
Between 2002 and 2007, Youssouf performed about 150 concerts in Mali with the Kumo Band at the Palais de la Culture in Bamako and the Cheval Blanc in Bandiagara.
In Belgium in June 2008, Youssouf played at a concert organized at the old Brussels-Chapelle train station with his Belgian musician friends.
The Dogon artist, with his subtle guitar playing and warm voice, has also moved beyond stage performance. He was selected as a finalist in the regional ZicMeUp Tour contest in Paris in 2009. Youssouf has also contributed his music for documentaries, including Entre ciel et terre produced by Angel Production (Canal+ and National Geographic France) and Afrikanisch Abenteuer and Fanta by Petra Schulz (ZDF in Germany). To this day, Intuit Productions based in Los Angeles (USA) uses Youssouf’s music for its documentary A Vanishing Truth. In 2013 and 2014 two tracks from the Girissagou album were used by Virtus Italia Onlus in the documentary to raise awareness about illegal immigration in Italy.
Experimenting with various musicians from Sicily (Italy) and the United Kingdom, Youssouf has shared the stage on many occasions with talented, internationally renowned artists.
Youssouf Karembé has been living in France since December 2008, playing music that blends rich rhythms and captivating melodies with artists from a variety of backgrounds.
With air time in Mali on local FM radio (Radio Baguiné in Bandiagara, Radio Seno in Bankass and radio stations in Sevare and Mopti) and on the famous show “Top Etoile” with a video made by the ORTM (Mali’s radio and television broadcasting network), Youssouf Karembé and the Kumo Band firmly established their position in the musical landscape of Mali. This budding fame grew with their appearance in the widely known television show “Ambiance Midi”. During its tour through the Dogon country, the group was filmed live at the Hotel Kambary Le Cheval Blanc in Bandiagara by a Chinese television crew. The Kumo Band then took part in a show with Radio Suisse Romande recorded live at the same hotel.
Youssouf Karembé was a finalist in the regional ZicMeUp Tour 2009 contest in Paris (France)


In 2011, Youssouf participated in the Asylum Festival in Birmingham, United Kingdom and has played several concerts since in Italy, France, Switzerland, Russia, the Netherlands and Germany.
2014 was his year of school projects, when 45 middle school students chose to sing with Youssouf after several rehearsals at Marie-Curie Middle School, followed by a concert at the town hall in Sceaux.


In July 2015, Youssouf Karembe played for the closing ceremony at the Black Summer Festival at the Cabaret Sauvage in Paris.

Concert at the Espace Culturel Terraqué in Carnac (France),
September 26, 2015
Performance images
Technical information

Youssouf Karembé: World music
Number of musicians:
Total of 7 musicians, formation adaptable to conditions, space and type of show.
Current musicians and instruments
Youssouf Karembé                Vocals and rhythm guitar
Kassim Diallo                         Electric guitar
Koshi Niwa                            Bass
Jean Philipe Rykiel                Keyboard
Nathalie Ahadji                     Saxophone + backup vocals
François Accart                     Drums + backup vocals
Amadou Daou                                    Percussion + backup vocals
Sound equipment
Bass amplifier
Guitar amplifier
Mixer amplifier plus accessories
Foldback and front speakers
Microphones: 7 plus accessories
DI: 3
Administrative structure
The Kumo Band is represented by the organization KALEDOIK PRODUCTION based in Paris.
Contacts and addresses
Kaledoik Production by Jean Noel Bertrand (President)
+33 (0)145 40 84 21
+33 (0)682 63 44 70
10, rue Francis de Préssensé 75014 Paris
N° Siret: 447 687 286 00016 – APE: 900 1Z

Youssouf Karembé’s direct line: +33 (0)6 24 03 82 56