Bai Konte

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Bai Konte
Birth name Bai Konte
Also known as Alhaji Bai Konte (after his pilgrimage to Mecca) also Alhaji Bai Konteh
Born 1920
The Gambia
Died 1983
Brikama, Sanchaba, the Gambia
Genres West African (World music, Folk music)
Occupation(s) Singer, genealogist, Kora player, historian,
Instruments kora
Years active 1973 (big break) to 1983
Associated acts Dembo Konte, Malamin Jobarteh, Chossani Senegambia (a joint program between Radio Gambia and Radio Senegal)

Alhaji Bai Konte (born 1920; died 1983) was a jali (praise singer) from Brikama, Gambia. His father Burama Konte was the one who composed the Anthem [Boom] of the 19th century Senegambian hero Mansumaneh Yundum. It was from that anthem that the anthem of Sheriff Sidi Hydara as well as Nyansu Mbasse originated from. Burama Konteh was a well known kora player of his generation.[1] Alhaji Bai Konte was a regular on Radio Gambia and Radio Senegal's joint program called Chossani Senegambia (the history of Senegambia) in the 1970s. He and other prominent griots such as Jali Nyama Suso and Alhaji Abdoulaye Samba (on xalam) used to play live music during the show. Alhaji Bai Konteh had narrated many epics on that show including the epic of King Abdou Njie and his griot and advisor Ibra Faye. Prominent broadcasters of that show included Alhaji Alieu Ebrima Cham Joof, Alhaji Assan Njie and Alhaji Mansour Njie.[2][3][4]

Following in the footstep of his father, Bai Konte also played the 21-string kora and is believed to have been the first kora player to perform and tour in the United States as a soloist, playing at the 1973 Newport Jazz Festival. (Les Ballets Africains, a dance and music group from Guinea, had first performed in the U.S. in 1959, and featured a kora player.)[5]

His sons Dembo Konte and Sherrifo Konteh (sic) live in Brikama, Gambia. Two LP recordings have been released of Alhaji Bai Konte with Dembo Konte and Malamini Jobarteh (Ma Lamin Jobarteh). Jali Sherrifo Konteh has released two CDs, 'Mansalou' and 'Chesano', and tours the UK most years.

Discography[edit]

  • 1973 - Konte, Alhaji Bai. Alhaji Bai Konte: Kora Melodies from The Republic of the Gambia, West Africa. Recorded and produced by Marc D. Pevar; photography and notes by Marc and Susan Pever. Rounder Records 5001.
  • c. 1978 - Gambia's Music/La musique de al Gambie/Gambias Musik. Ethnic Folkways Library. Recorded and produced by Marc D. Pevar; introductory notes by Susan Gunn Pevar. [New York City]: Folkways Records FE 4521.
  • 1979 - Konte, Alhaji Bai, with Dembo Konte and Ma Lamini Jobate. Gambian Griot Kora Duets. Recorded December 1977 in Dakar, Senegal, and Brikama, the Gambia, by Marc Pevar. New York City: Folkways. Re-released on CD by Smithsonian Folkways Records in 1999.

1982 - with Dembo Konte & Malamini Jobarteh, Kora Music and Songs from the Gambia, recorded/produced Ken Day & Lucy Duran, 1982, Virgin Records

  • 1989 - Konte, Alhaji Bai. Kora Melodies From the Republic of the Gambia, West Africa. Recorded in 1973 by Marc D. Pevar. Originally released in 1973, and works 1-10 were issued also in 1985 as analog disc (5001). Somerville, Massachusetts: Rounder Records.
  • 2001 - Konteh, Sherrifo. Mansalou. Compound Sounds CS01.
  • 2005 - Konteh, Sherrifo. Chesano. Compound Sounds CS02.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Radio Gambia, "Chossani Senegambia" (The History of Senegambia)
  2. ^ Joof, Alhaji Alieu Ebrima Cham. Senegambia - The land of our heritage. (1995). pp 7-12
  3. ^ Radio Gambia Programmes now GRTS
  4. ^ One Gambia.com interviews veteran journalist and historian Alhaji Mansour Njie the shows can also be listened to on that site in Wolof and Mandinka
  5. ^ IBDB.com

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