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Lamine Cissokho

Cissokho, kora player, composer and arranger.
Lamine Cissokho was born in 1971 in Ziguinchor, Casamance, where he grew up. This region of southern Senegal is well known for the richness of its culture and its musical traditions.
Lamine is the descendant of a family of Mandingo griots, a family of well-known musicians, whose traditions date back to the 14th century.
Each member of the family helps preserving the family’s musical heritage by passing on his gifts and musical talents to the next generation. Lamine’s father is the talented kora player Sana Cissokho, and his mother is the Casamance griot Fatoumata Drame. His great uncle Lalo Keba Drama, certainly one of the best korafolas that Africa has ever known, became an icon and inspiration for Lamine.
Lamine laid his hands on the 22 strings of his kora from childhood, to never let the strings go again. At the same time, he was introduced to other traditional West African instruments, such as djembe, sabar and seourba. This mastery of rhythm will be clearly noticeable later on, in his compositions.
He began a career as a professional musician when he was around 18 years old, playing during traditional ceremonies, festivals and cafes concerts.
Curious to expand his repertoire and his technique, Lamine chose to offer his musical career a broader perspective by moving to Scandinavia, Sweden, in 2001. He settled in Dalarna, a region known for the richness of its folk music. He then discovered similarities between the traditional chords of kora and those of European instruments, and began a journey of musical cross-breeding. Starting from the pure traditional Mandingo melodies learned in Senegal, he slowly evolved towards folk and jazz music.
He collaborated in particular with the Swedish folklore master Ale Möller. He also toured in Sweden, from Urkult, to Falun Folk Festival, and Vildrosfestivalen, and so on.
In 2010 Lamine went to Austria and recorded his first album “Pakao”. This album is made up of personal compositions, with vocal songs and instrumental songs. The texts are an homage to his roots and traditions, and the melodies take root in its Mandingue repertoire, but on the edge of a pop jazzy and groovy sound.
The virtuoso Toumani Diabaté will speak greatly about this album: “In the world, music is universal, it has no boundaries. This is what Lamine tells us in the lyrics of his new album “Pakao”. He sings of the life and culture of the Griot people as well as the experience of an African in Europe. Lamine’s music is inspired by the enormous wealth of musical traditions of Senegal. He sings mainly in Mandingue and with his impressive, expressive voice, holds audiences captive. He is on the right way to become a famous kora player with his own style.”
After his first album, Lamine toured in Europe and Africa, having gigs in different scenes and festivals: Winthertur (Switzerland), Festival Bakota (Austria), Int. Harp Festival (Scotland), Fasching (Sweden), Just4You (Senegal), Africajarc (France), Int. Guitar Festival (Denmark), etc.
He continued to compose and grow in the afro-jazz groove music. Lamine explored different ways of playing music:
In solo, he can play a great number of instruments, from the most meditative to the most rhythmic. He uses most often one of his two koras to play on a broader and varied musical range.
In trio, Lamine is usually accompanied by a double bass player and a guitarist. Three “elastic” musicians who are not afraid of Lamine’s challenges and improvisations.
In a band, like “Roots of Joy” born in 2013. Four musicians play around Lamine, a Kurdish saz player, a Serb bassist, a Swedish mandolin player and a Swedish singer. The compositions of “Roots of Joy” are influenced by West African, Scandinavian, Oriental and Irish music. This band plays pure world music.
Sharing the music and the stage, daring the dialogue between kora and unexpected instruments, bringing together styles and cultures, these are Lamine’s strengths, beyond his enormous scenic energy and his impressive technicality. As a result, he has opened his stage and his world to many other musicians over the years.
In 2014, Lamine was laureate of the LKD Prize for the promotion of the kora, and the winner of the Lalo Keba Drama Prize. This prize is an independent and symbolic award rewarding a kora player from Senegambia.
Lamine released his second album “Sama Tilo” in 2015. This album is an acoustic piece on which the kora is surrounded by saxophone, oud, violin, flute, etc. The lyrics are dedicated to African youth, and are sung in Wolof, French and Mandingo.
The single “Senegal for life” was launched in Senegal in 2016. Lamine tours there every year, meeting a loyal audience. He began a project to bring music and culture to the villages of Casamance, those of his ancestors, and to meet a new audience.
2016 brought also a new surprise and recognition of his talent, as Lamine was nominated for Artist of the Year at the Swedish Folk and World Music Gala.
His third album, “Kora +1” is release in 2017. Lamine plays his kora with a new instrument on each piece, creating new eclectic duos. He meets an accordion, an electric piano, a double bass, a keyboard, drums and another kora.
Keep in touch to see what Lamine’s future holds!

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  • 2017 to 2019

  • Musicians
    • Bandolin
    • saz

    On Tour

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    Past Shows and Events
    Africajarc, Cajarc/France

    Agoo Festival, Vasa/Finland

    Fasching, Stockholm/Sweden

    International Guitar Festival, Copenhagen/Danmark

    International Harp Festival, Edinburgh/Scotland

    Jazzit, Salzburg/Austria

    Just4You, Dakar/Senegal

    Technical Information