Mory Kanté

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Mory Kanté
Born (1950-03-29) 29 March 1950 (age 69)
Albadaria, Guinea[1][2]
GenresWorld music
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, kora
Years active1971-present

Mory Kanté (born 29 March 1950) is a Guinean vocalist and player of the kora harp. He is best known internationally for his 1987 hit song "Yé ké yé ké", which reached number-one in Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, and Spain. The album it came from, Akwaba Beach, was the best-selling African record of its time.[3]

Early life[edit]

Mory Kanté was born of mixed Malian and Guinean descent, into one of Guinea's best known families of griot (hereditary) musicians. After being brought up in the Mandinka griot tradition in Guinea, he was sent to Mali at the age of seven years – where he learned to play the kora, as well as important voice traditions, some of which are necessary to become a griot.[2] As a Muslim, he integrated aspects of Islamic music in his work.[3]


In 1971 Kanté became a member of the Rail Band, in which Salif Keita was a singer.[2] Keïta left the band in 1973, leaving Kanté as the singer.[2]

In 1987, he released the song "Yé ké yé ké", which was one of Africa's best-ever selling hits as well as being a European number-one in 1988, making it the first ever African single to sell over one million copies.[citation needed] The album it came from, Akwaba Beach, became the best-selling African record of its time. The album also featured an Islamic song, "Inch Allah", alongside the pop hit "Yé ké yé ké".[3] The album also featured the song "Tama", which inspired two Bollywood songs, "Tamma Tamma" in Thanedaar (1990) and "Jumma Chumma" in Hum (1991), the latter also featuring another song "Ek Doosre Se" which was inspired by "Inch Allah".[4]

Kanté received unexpected fame again in 1994 when the German techno duo Hardfloor created a dance remix of "Yéké Yéké." He also appeared in 2006 as vocalist on British DJ Darren Tate's release, "Narama".

On 16 October 2001, Mory Kanté was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Kanté is among Africa’s top musicians – including Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam and the rapper Didier Awadi – that banded together for the recording of "Africa Stop Ebola," a song offering sound advice aimed at raising awareness in the wake of the Ebola crisis.[5] The song, released in November 2014, transcended public service announcements and sold 250,000 copies with all proceeds going to medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).[6]

Selected discography[edit]


  • Courougnegne (1981)
  • N'Diarabi (1982)
  • A Paris (1984)
  • 10 Cola Nuts (1986)
  • Akwaba Beach (1987) (#1 SUI; #13 GER; #43 SWE)
  • Touma (1990)
  • Nongo Village (1993)
  • Tatebola (1996)
  • Tamala – Le Voyageur (2001)
  • Best Of (2002)
  • Sabou (2004)
  • La Guinéenne (2012)
  • N'diarabi (2017)
Contributing artist


  • "Yé ké yé ké" (1988) (#1 NED; #1 ISR; #2 GER; #2 SUI; #5 FRA; #10 AUT; #12 SWE; #29 UK)
  • "Tama" (1988) (#44 GER)
  • "Yéké Yéké" (remix) (1995) (#97 AUS,[7] #25 UK)
  • "Yéké Yéké" (remix) (1996) (#28 UK)



  1. ^ Artists - Mory Kante Archived 2014-12-13 at WOMAD
  2. ^ a b c d Bio - Mory Kante Archived 2014-12-15 at the Wayback Machine RFI Musique
  3. ^ a b c Levtzion, Nehemia; Pouwels, Randall (2000). The History of Islam in Africa. Ohio University Press. p. 551. ISBN 9780821444610.
  4. ^ Srinivasan, Karthik (16 October 2018). "How Guinean Singer Mory Kanté's Music Was Lifted To Create 'Tamma Tamma Loge' and 'Jumma Chumma De De'". Film Companion. Archived from the original on 16 October 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  5. ^ Kozinn, Allan (29 October 2014). "How to Protect Yourself From Ebola, in Song". NY Times ArtsBeat. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  6. ^ Hussain, Misha (24 November 2014). ""Avoid stigmatising Africa," musician says as W.Africa Ebola song launched". Reuters. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  7. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart – Week Ending 11 Jun 1995". (original document published by ARIA). Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 296. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

External links[edit]