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The Southern Illinoisian, Concert Preview >>

Malian guitarist Habib Koité plans unique show in Marion

Habib Koité is one of Africa’s most popular and recognized musicians.

MARION -- Habib Koité and the African Jam Band will entertain crowds with unique guitar playing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 1, in Marion Cultural & Civic Center.

Habib tunes the guitar to the pentatonic scale and plays on open strings. At other times, he plays music that sounds closer to the blues or flamenco, two styles he studied under Khalilou Traoré, a veteran of the legendary Afro-Cuban band Maravillas du Mali.

His singing style has been described as “restrained and intimate with varying cadenced rhythms and melodies.”

The Malian guitarist has also been called one of Africa’s most popular and recognized musicians.

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 the construction of the tracks. Six months after his birth, the Koité family returned to the regional capital of west Mali, Kayes, and then to Bamako.

Habib comes from a noble line of Khassonké griots, traditional troubadors who provide musical entertainment at social gatherings.

Habib grew up surrounded by 17 brothers and sisters, and developed his unique guitar style accompanying his griot mother. He says 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 Habib, “I watched my parents, and it washed off on me.”

Tickets for the Marion show are priced at $15 and $10.

For more information call 618-997-4030 or visit

 02/27/14 >> go there
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