WEDNESDAY FOLK TRADITIONS PRESENTS: Youssoupha Sidibe

June 11, 2014

HADLEY – The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum kicks off its 33rd season of Wednesday Folk Traditions on June 11, 2014, with Youssoupha Sidibe. A Grammy-nominated Senegalese Master Kora player, Sidibe breaks with tradition to create a new genre that blends aspects of western music with Reggae and ancient African Harp styles. Sidibe will be giving his premiere performance at the Folk Traditions series. This and all other performances are held Wednesday evenings at 6:30 pm in the Sunken Garden at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum, 130 River Drive, Route 47, Hadley, MA 01035. General admission is $10, or $2 for children 16 and under. Picnickers are welcome on the museum grounds beginning at 5:00 pm. The Museum and grounds is a smoke free site. 

Sidibe's musical career began 25 years ago in Senegal, West Africa, where he trained as a Kora player at the National Music Conservatory of Senegal. His music has since developed into a fusion of traditional West African sounds and the Sufi devotional chanting of the Senegalese Bay Faal community, a Sufi Islamic sect founded in 1892 by Mame Cheikh Ibrahima Fall – "The Light," to his followers. It is no surprise, then, that Sidibe's musical expression springs from his desire for the full realization of divine love in this world. His sacred and celebratory sound also incorporates devotional lyrics sung in Wolof (the most widely-spoken language in Senegal), Arabic, French, and English.

The Kora is a traditional African harp fashioned from a calabash (a large gourd) cut in half and covered with cow skin for resonance. Like a lute or a guitar, it has a notched bridge and a similar appearance, though its sound is more akin to that of a harp. Its playing style resembles delta-blues style guitar techniques; the player uses their index and forefingers to pluck the strings. Traditional Koras have 21 strings, eleven played by the left hand and ten by the right. Modern Koras sometimes incorporate 4 additional bass strings. Koras are tuned by moving leather bands up and down the neck of the instrument. The Kora comes from a long oral tradition, as Kora players have generally come from griot families who pass their skills as storytellers and historians from one generation to the next.

One of Sidibe's first collaborations was with Matisyahu, an American reggae rapper and alternative Rock musician hailing from West Chester, Pennsylvania. Sidibe recorded with Matisyahu on his album "Youth" in 2006, which debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200. A month later, the album was certified Gold by the RIAA. By December, the album ranked 3rd overall on Billboard's Reggae charts. In 2007, "Youth" was nominated for a Grammy Award for best Reggae album of the year. 

Sidibe's mission to invoke the divine through his music has led him to perform for large and diverse groups and has earned him thousands of fans all across the globe. Now an inspirational and prolific performing presence the world over, Sidibe has also collaborated, performed and recorded with a plethora of extraordinary artists, including Charles Neville of the funk/soul group The Neville Brothers, India Arie, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the Chris Berry Trio, Shimshai, and others. In between performing at some of the most famous festivals and venues in the world, Sidibe has led healing music workshops in America, Europe, and Africa. 

For more information, visit Youssouppha Sidibe's website.