Leila Gobi, Mamadou Kelly

Leila Gobi

Born in 1984 in Menaka, Leila Gobi comes from conservative Tuareg family. Yet, at elementary school in Ménaka she became noticed for her beautiful voice and that began her journey into music. At a very young age she was already the main singer of the city of Menaka and repeatedly won the award as best solo singer for the province of Gao. Her official start in music was during 2000-2004 while studying at the National Institute of the Arts in Bamako where she was the lead singer for their orchestra and the touring ensemble.

Leila Gobi has been a backup vocalist with many of the great artists of northern Mali (Baba Salah, Khaira Arby, Sidi Touré, to name a few). She created her own group in 2010 and has released 2 albums in her own name: 'Ménaka' and 'Peace'. She is currently working on a third. In addition to having performed extensively within Mali, Leila Gobi has toured the sub-Saharan region and performed in Niger, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Senegal.

Leila Gobi faced obstacles to reach her career path. Her family opposed her pursuit of music and they preferred she marry. That marriage gave her a lovely young daughter. As an artist from the province of Gao, she also faced the difficulty integrating into the tight community of artists in the capitol city of Bamako. Despite these challenges, Leila’s sophisticated artistic talent supported by her courage to keep pursuing her dreams have brought her success.

Leila Gobi plays several instruments: guitar, djembe, balafon and the Tamacheq tinde. She sings in several the languages of Mali: Tamacheq, Songhaï, Peulh, Bambara and French. Her music concentrates on peace, contemporary life and Love.

Mamadou Kelly

From Niafunke, the heart of the Malian delta blues, guitar genius and subtle vocal stylist, Mamadou Kelly has been an integral part of two of the most famous groups in Malian music, Afel Bocoum’s Alkibar and also Ali Farka Toure’s backup band. He has played guitar and performed with these two greats on many of their tours and albums. He is the solid glue that holds the music together. Nothing short of a virtuoso on the acoustic guitar, Mamadou has an encyclopedic knowledge of the music of Mali. He represents a new sophistication in the sound of Niafunke.

Forced to flee Niafunke for Bamako after the occupation of northern Mali in 2012 and the imposition of sharia that banned music in his home town, Mamadou continues to develop his career. Having toured extensively as a side-man, he is now ready to step into the center spotlight and present his own music to the world. Supported by his brother, Hama, a respected genius on the calabash who is also heard on many recordings from Mali, and their longtime collaborator, monochord master Youro, their music represents the best and most captivating combination of traditional and contemporary West Africa imaginable. His vocals display a smooth sophistication demonstrating the high level of his art.

Mamadou can be heard on many recordings from Mali and appears in many videos. He continues to record in the studio and is putting together a new solo album for a 2013 release. His charm belies a determined professional. His song style is direct, deceptively simple and yet highly sophisticated. A rich historical background supports the composition and delivery. Without skipping a beat, Mamadou is able to bring a gracious hospitality to his music and to the concert stage.

In two of the videos below, Mamadou Kelly can be seen in the group backing Afel Bocoum. Do not let the size of the crowd in front of the festival stage fool you. It is early afternoon in rural Holland. The other video is a tribute by Alkibar to Ali Farka Toure.



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