“With music you speak to people, you touch hearts and bring joy”.
Bassidi Koné is of Bwa ethnicity from the San region in central Mali. Born into a Griot family, Bassidi grew up beside his father’s primary instrument, the balafon, instilling in him his forefathers’ traditional village songs and rhythms passed down through many generations. Since these early childhood experiences, Bassidi carried on this musical heritage and legacy with the greatest of respect through the study of two percussive instruments, the balafon and the barra (gourd drum).
After moving to Kati at thirteen, Bassidi regularly performed with his father; playing accompaniment on the barra for his father’s balafon. It was at one of these performances that Bassidi met Koninba Bagayogo, a chance meeting that profoundly influenced Bassidi’s musical career as a percussionist. Impressed by Bassidi’s skill playing the barra, Koninba encouraged Bassidi to study djembe. Bassidi became his apprentice and performed with him regularly at weddings and other musical events. Playing alongside this master djembe player, the young Bassidi quickly extended his knowledge and skill.
Throughout his teenage years and early 20’s, Bassidi’s clear resolve and unmatched determination to reach his full potential as a djembe player, caught Mali’s attention. He distinguished himself through his innovative solo lead playing and technical virtuosity at a number of prominent international young talent competitions.
Driven to defend his rich Bwa heritage, Bassidi founded his family-based percussion troupe, Bwazan (Bobo children), in 2005. Most of Bwazan members are from the same line of griots from Bassidis village and surrounding area. Bwazan are recognised as Mali’s leading percussion troupe. They are ambassadors of their musical heritage and promote a message of peace and solidarity throughout Mali and the world. More information about Bwazan can be found at bwazan-mali.com.
“Traveling from his culturally rich and vibrant homeland of Mali (West Africa), following in the footsteps of great artists before him such as Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Toumani Diabaté and Rokia Traoré, virtuoso drummer and balafonist Bassidi Koné now brings his shining spirit and awe inspiring musical expression to Australia”.
Multicultural Arts Victoria
Today, Bassidi tours internationally and is passionate about sharing his traditional griot music and culture. He enjoys collaborating with diverse ensemble groups and musicians from varied musical backgrounds, delving into Afro-jazz, latin, reggae, classical and contemporary genres. No matter what the genre, Bassidi skillfully infuses the music with the heritage of his family’s music tradition.
Bassidi has been involved in a number of milestone performances in Australia, these include The Meander Project, a unique musical collaboration between Multicultural Arts Victoria and students from the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), and Sankofa, a collaboration with Australia’s leading Afro-contemporary dance company, Asanti Dance Theatre. In May 2014, Bassidi worked with Koné Express, a 9-piece Afro-Jazz ensemble, who received a grant from Australia Council for an Australian national tour. In November 2016, Bassidi was honoured to bring a Malian voice to the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC16), in Indianapolis, IN, U.S.A, presenting the djembe and balafon in two solo performances. In September 2018, Bassidi participated in a unique collaborations with the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir, which culminated in a showcase performance at the 2018 Desert Song Festival in Central Australia.
Bassidi currently performs with Melbourne-based percussion band, Ausecuma Beats, and Queensland-based band, Highlife. Highlife recently won the 2017 Queensland Music Award for Best World Music Act. Bassidi and Highlife look forward to performing together at this year’s Splendor in the Grass festival in July, 2019.
Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC16)
Indianapolis, IN, U.S.A. (2016)
Koné Express Australian Tour
Australia (May-June 2014)
The Meander Project
Melbourne, Australia (2013)
The Emerge Festival
Fitzroy Town Hall, Melbourne, Australia (2013)
Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne (2012)
An afro-contemporary work with Asanti Dance Theatre