Mamadou Sidibe | Walter Strauss | Kendrick Freeman
Fula Brothers is the high spirited meeting of three seasoned touring performers – each of whom has spent decades pursuing the shared heartbeat in music from around the globe. Here is a history filled with inter-continental collaborations and colorful apprenticeships, from West Africa and Scotland to Haiti and the US. Each of these cultural threads stirs a unique part of our universal human experience, and Mamadou, Walter, and Kendrick weave them into a rich tapestry of sound and rhythm. The result? An ecstatic and intricate groove-based dialogue which the heart – and the feet – cannot resist.
Master kamale ngoni player, Mamadou Sidibe, is from the Wassoulou Region of Mali, West Africa. Twenty-five years ago, Mamadou played a groundbreaking role in the transformation of this region’s music from its origins in hunters’ sacred melodies – played on six string donso ngoni (hunter’s harps) – to a music of philosophical observations, politics, and daily life. Mamadou was one of the first to expand the instrument’s range with two extra strings, creating the popular kamale ngoni. He has recently enhanced the kamale ngoni even further by devising 10 and 12-stringed instruments.
Mamadou, with artists Coumba Sidibe, Oumou Sangare and Ramata Diakite, spread the new sounds through recordings and performances in Europe, Africa and the United States. Not only is Mamadou an award-winning musician and master of the kamale ngoni, he is accomplished on several other African instruments as well.
“At the center of his music is the same sensibility that you’ll find in Muddy Waters: a sense of music as a tool for the re-creation of everyday life into something special, even magical.” ~ Stylus
Fingerstyle guitarist Walter Strauss’s unique multi-layered style draws on American roots, jazz, classical, and global music traditions. For 15 years, he has delved deep into the music of West Africa, collaborating with well-loved practitioners of the kora (a 21-stringed West African harp) and the kamale ngoni or hunter’s harp. Walter’s guitar rendering of the music of the kora has been described as “inspirational” by kora legend and cultural ambassador, Toumani Diabate. He is a rare guitarist who can spark a dance floor by himself, and his guitar interpretations of music from other international stringed instruments are showstoppers.
In addition to his solo work throughout the US and UK, Walter is known for his international collaborations. He has teamed up with diverse artists including Grammy-winning Malian kora player Mamadou Diabate, Scottish fiddler Jonny Hardie and Grammy-nominated American guitarist Alex de Grassi. Walter has performed internationally at venues like the Kennedy Center, the Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland, and Le Diplomate in Bamako, Mali. Most recently, he created music for the Ken Burns documentary film “Defying the Nazis.”
“A many-layered, multi-textured, one-man folk festival” ~ Maverick Magazine
Drummer Kendrick Freeman possesses a rare agility across international music forms, developed through years of study and collaboration with musicians of far-flung locales and cultures. Having performed in Australia, Japan, Europe and across the US and Canada, he has worked with artists such as Haitian saxophonist Lyonel Poyau, Brazilian guitarist / composer Ricardo Peixoto, and Pakistani singer Sukhawat Ali Khan. For years, Kendrick toured internationally as the drummer for genre-bending banjo player and Grammy-winner Alison Brown.
Kendrick has keenly explored the music of West Africa and the African diaspora – studying with drummers from Ghana, Congo, and Haiti – and masterfully integrated these influences into a truly inventive cross-cultural style. Accordingly, he has been awarded support for his rhythmic pursuits from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts. Kendrick is a musician’s drummer – nimble, imaginative, and interactive … a master collaborator.
FulaMuse is a double dose of heart poured over rhythms to uplift the body and soul – the union of two bands who nourish and rouse the collective spirit. MaMuse invokes a musical presence that inspires the opening of the heart. Fula Brothers create an ecstatic groove-based dialogue which the heart – and the feet – cannot resist.
The rich diversity between them and their shared love to uplift is what sparks their collaborative magic. Songbird singers, West African hunters harp, fingerstyle guitar, drums, vocals, bass, ukulele – all part of the bounty. Boatloads of improvisation, a full heart, and always an ecstatic community of dancers.