- February 1, 2014
- 8:00 pm
275 Hayes Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
"His reputation as a guitar player has become almost mythical, combining rock and classical techniques with Malian tunings that make the guitar sound like a kora or ngoni."-New York Times
"The biggest pop star of the West African nation of Mali."-Rolling Stone
"...in his case, the unfamiliarity of the language was no problem, largely because of his communicative manner-kneeling down at the stage edge to interact with the crowd-dancing in unison with his musicians-made such a clear, nonverbal connection with his listeners."-Los AngelesTimes
With more than a quarter of a million albums sold around the globe, an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, a duet with Bonnie Raitt on her album Silver Lining, and nearly a thousand concerts on some of the world's most prestigious stages, Habib Koité is one of Africa's most popular and recognized musicians. Koité has gained a strong fan base by integrating the rock and folk sounds of the Western world without watering down his cherished Malian roots.
Called "Mali's biggest pop star" by Rolling Stone (in an article in which Bonnie Raitt compared Habib to Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn), Koité has also received raves from People, Entertainment Weekly, and the New York Times.
Habib Koité was born in 1958 in Thiès, a Senegalese town situated on the railway line connecting Dakar to Niger, where his father worked on constructing the tracks. He descends from a line of griots, traditional African troubadours. Koité grew up surrounded by seventeen brothers and sisters, and developed his unique guitar style accompanying his griot mother. He inherited his passion for music from his paternal grandfather, who played the kamele n'goni, a traditional four-stringed instrument associated with hunters from the Wassolou region of Mali.
"Nobody really taught me to sing or to play the guitar," explains Koité. "I watched my parents, and it washed off on me." Habib was headed for a career as an engineer, but on the insistence of his uncle, who recognized his musical talent, he enrolled at the National Institute of Arts (INA) in Bamako, Mali. After only six months, he was made conductor of the school's prestigious band...