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Mali, West Africa

Bassidi Koné is of Bwa ethnicity and was born into a Griot family in the San region of central Mali. His earliest memories are of growing up beside his father’s primary instrument, the balafon (a gourd-resonated vibraphone), which instilled in him his forefathers’ traditional village songs and rhythms passed down through many generations. Since these early childhood experiences, Bassidi carried on this rich musical heritage and legacy with the greatest of respect through the study of the balafon and barra (gourd drum).

After moving to Kati, Bamako, 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 invited Bassidito to become his apprentice on the djembe (hand drum). 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.

Defending his rich Bwa heritage, Bassidi founded his family-based percussion troupe, Bwazan (Bobo children), in 2005. Today, Bwazan is recognised as one of Mali’s leading percussion groups. Ambassadors of their musical heritage, they promote a message of peace and solidarity throughout the world. More information about Bwazan and their current projects and events can be found at bwazan-mali.com.

Beyond Mali

“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
Melbourne, Australia

Bassidi tours internationally and enjoys collaborating with diverse ensemble groups, delving into Afro-jazz, latin, reggae, classical and contemporary genres. Bassidi skillfully infuses these genres with the heritage of his family’s music tradition.

Bassidi has been involved in a number of milestone performances around the world. The Meander Project (Australia), was a unique musical collaboration between Multicultural Arts Victoria and Fellow students from the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM). 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, which received standing ovations. In September 2018, Bassidi participated in collaborations with the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir, which culminated in the finale  showcase performance at the 2018 Desert Song Festival in Central Australia. In 2019, Bassidi and Queensland-based ‘Afro-psych’ band, Highlife, took to the stage at one of Australia’s largest music festivals, Splendor in the Grass. When in Melbourne, Bassidi currently performs and tours with Melbourne-based band, Ausecuma Beats.

This year, Bassidi is very honoured to represent Mali as a OneBeat 202Fellow in Florida, USA.

 

International Performances and Collaborations

OneBeat 2022
Florida, USA (2022)

Spicks and Specks
ABC Television
Australia (2022)

Splendor in the Grass Festival
Highlife Band
Queensland, Australia (2019)

Desert Song Festival
Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir (finale showcase performance)
Central Australia (2018)

Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC16)
Solo performance on djembe and balafon
Indianapolis, IN, U.S.A. (2016)

Koné Express Australian Tour
Australia (May-June 2014)

The Meander Project
Multicultural Arts Victoria and Fellow Students at the Australian National Academy of Music
Melbourne, Australia (2013)

© Feature photo (top) courtesy of Michael McCann

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