Video

Africa Express Exclusive: Kankou Kouyaté Live At 'Maison Des Jeunes'

Watch the exclusive video of a live rendition of Kankou Koutaté performing the Damon Albarn-produced "Yamore" from Africa Express 'Maison Des Jeunes.'


Today marks the release of Maison Des Jeunes, the debut recording effort from Africa Express which resulted when rising names in Mali's music community and international creatives the likes of Damon Albarn, Olugbenga, and Ghostpoet, convened for a week of collaboration at an interim studio in Bamako back in October. One especially buzzing name surrounding the project is that of 20 year-old vocalist Kankou Kouyaté. Born into a griot family in Bamako, Kouyaté began studying music at the age of eight under the instruction of legendary Malian musician Cheick Oumar Diabaté. Kankou's contribution to Maison Des Jeunes comes in the form of a Damon Albarn-produced standout with her band Gambari — founded in 2011 by her father Fousseyni Kouyaté (brother of Bassekou Kouyaté). Catch an exclusive breakdown of the beauty — a stripped down live rendition that features Kankou's mesmerizing "Yamore." Take a close look and you'll notice a spellbound Brian Eno in the background. Watch the video and stay tuned for more on Maison Des Jeunes (out now via Transgressive Records).

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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