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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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Youssouf Karembé: World music
Total of 7 musicians, formation
adaptable to conditions, space and type of show.
Current musicians and
Youssouf Karembé Vocals
and rhythm guitar
Kassim Diallo Electric
Koshi Niwa Bass
Jean Philipe Rykiel Keyboard
Nathalie Ahadji Saxophone + backup vocals
François Accart Drums + backup vocals
Amadou Daou Percussion
+ backup vocals
Mixer amplifier plus accessories
Foldback and front speakers
Microphones: 7 plus
The Kumo Band is represented
by the organization KALEDOIK PRODUCTION based in Paris.
Production by Jean Noel Bertrand (President)
+33 (0)145 40 84 21
+33 (0)682 63 44 70
10, rue Francis de Préssensé
N° Siret: 447 687 286 00016 –
APE: 900 1Z
Karembé’s direct line: +33 (0)6 24 03 82 56