Passion and heritage

Habib Koite
Habib Koite

One of Africa’s most respected guitarists Habib Koité, is back on tour in the UK for the first time in a decade, and comes to St Mary in the Castle, in Hastings, this weekend.

He will perform live in a family friendly show on Sunday October 22 at 3pm.

The show is part of this year’s AfriKàBa Festival which showcases work from artists with African and Caribbean heritage. Habib will be joined on stage by his longtime band Bamada.

Habib Koité is descended from a line of Khassonké griots, traditional troubadors who provide wit, wisdom and musical entertainment at social gatherings and special events, and his music is rooted in Malian and West African rhythms and melodies, while embracing a variety of musical styles including blues, flamenco and Afro-Cuban.

Habib’s cadenced vocals come in eight languages from Bambara and Mandinka, to French and Spanish.

Through studying classical guitar, Habib developed his signature fingerpicking style, which combined with tuning his guitar to the pentatonic scale and playing on open strings produces a sound reminiscent of the kora.

This singular approach has cemented his position as one of Mali’s most successful musicians, and he has collaborated with everyone from Malian legend Toumani Diabaté to blues greats Eric Bibb (with whom he recorded the 2012 album Brothers in Bamako) and Bonnie Raitt, with Songlines describing him as ‘one of Africa’s most accomplished instrumentalists.’

Habib believes in the power of music to build bridges, and his songs speak of peace, unity and togetherness, universal messages that have never been more timely.

These sentiments run throughout his latest album Soô (At Home) released in 2014, which speaks of the need for ethnic groups in Mali to come together, but also of the simple pleasures of home, football and falling in love.

Support comes from kora virtuoso Sura Susso. Born into a griot family in Bakoteh, Western Gambia, and the younger brother of kora master Seckou Keita, Sura Susso will be performing music from his debut album Sila Kang.

Very special guest performers are Hastings’ own world music choir Vocal Explosion led by Juliet Russell. This choir performs a wide variety of world influenced music that incorporates many styles from Eastern European, Gypsy to upbeat African and bespoke compositions, and they recently took to the stage at Big Green Cardigan Festival. Vocal Explosion’s performances are known for being passionate and evocative.

Tickets £30, (concs £15, family ticket £65). Enter discount code FIVE17 for a discount - for the first 50 people only. To book visit www.afrikaba.co.uk.