Resource 4: Ami Koita
Teacher resource for planning or adapting to use with pupils
Since ancient times, Manding griots have sung histories, lineages and praise songs with grand style and devastating conviction. Of Mali's many jalimusolu-female griot singers, none has earned more adulation than Ami Koita, a role model for all Mali's contemporary women singers. Koita's big, vibratoless voice and her dazzling lineup of nimble-fingered instrumentalists make her songs of pride, love, tragedy and joy accessible even without translation from her native Bambara. Her traditional acoustic work surrounds her voice with an irresistible chattering of melodies from balafon (wooden xylophone, see Resource 6), kora (21- string harp), ngoni (small, banjo-like lute) and guitar, which plays in the lightning-quick manner of the other instruments. Recently, Koita has also branched out to record with electric instruments, even collaborating with Tabu Ley and Afrisa, one of the great old bands of Zaire. ‘I am proud to be a griot,’ sings Koita over the chiming of Zairean guitars. ‘I become a bird and fly above the people.’ Brightly coloured traditional gowns spreading wing-like below her gesturing arms reinforce the image.
Adapted from:(Accessed 2008)