Amy Koïta
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Amy Koïta was born in Djoliba at the eve of the African independences(early fifties), at 40 kilometres from Bamako, in the heart of the deep "Mande", on the borders of the Niger River and a few-hour walk from Guinea.

Her mother is from Kirina, place of the famous fight of Sundiata Keïta at the XIII century. She's proud of her pure Mandingo origins. She lost her father at the age of 3. This one, Bengaly Fodé Koïta, traditionalist of the pure and hard line, is still well-known in Mali for his contribution to the historic of the kings' and emperors' of Mande conquests such as Sundiata Keïta, and to the different colonial battles led by war chiefs such as Samory Touré, emperor of the wassoulou, Babemba king of Sikasso, Tiramangan Traoré, Fakoly Doumbia, El Hadj Oumar Tall etc.

At her father's death, she goes to Bamako with her mother but she will always have special links with Djoliba. Her grand-mother, who reached the age of 100 and died in 1992, stays her constant inspiration source by her model of Mandingo purity in opposition to the hybrid language and culture of the great towns.

Wa Kamissoko, her mother's brother, famous international historian because he has written with Youssouf Tata Cissé a part of the Mandingo history (Les Grandes Gestes du Mali); will take care of her education during 20 years.

Amy is from a griot family. Her father, by his fidelity to the old chief of Djoliba memory, made the vow to never praise again after his death. So she learned
-with her mother: for the songs and the vocal fluctuations very important for the griots.
-with her grand mother: the behaviour, the sensitiveness, the respect of the traditions, and
-with her uncle, Wa Kamissoko, the knowledge of true history, without any deformation, in perfect harmony with music.

She follows her mother in all her representations. She then learned the vocal techniques and the rules of the behaviour of a woman of honour. At 12, she's already a star in demand in all the children parties. Amy was revealed in 1966, during a singing competition organized in Mali to recruit the best voices and knowledge of history for the National Instrumental Ensemble of Mali. It's the beginning of a lightning carrier.

At 17, she enters the famous and glorious National Instrumental Ensemble of Mali, with which she makes tours and discovers the greatest scenes of the world. She also makes, with this ensemble, her first recording in studio at radio Mali.

In 1977, at the Festival of Negro arts in Lagos (Nigeria), she makes herself noticed near the greatest voices of Africa, among which were Sory Kandia Kouyaté of Guinea, fact that pushes her, as soon as she's back in Mali, to leave the National Instrumental Ensemble of Mali to make a solo carrier.

In 1978, her first tape is put on sale. Since this moment, griots produced themselves only for private partners. She's among the first artists who have inversed this tendency.

As well as her melodious voice even when shrilling, her extraordinary transmission of history, Amy is also admired for the quality of her compositions. She found her inspiration in the tradition which she enriches with the contact of modernity. "When I tried modern orchestration, she says, I was afraid to loose my elder fans, but in the contrary, they were the first to encourage me". In fact, this very limited modernity doesn't destroy at all the large and quiet Mandingo swaying on which Amy's voice explodes in the purest tradition of clarity and liberty.

Amy Koïta made her first recordings at the national radio diffusion of Mali in 1975 accompanied of Adama Danté at the N'Goni. In 1976 and 1978 accompanied of Guesseré Mama Drame at the N'Goni.

A performance that confirmed the astonishing charisma of this singer was the one she gave at the UNESCO for the “Felix Houphouët Boigny” prize giving ceremony in front of the presidents François Mitterrand (France), Mario SOARES (Portugal), Queen Beatrice from the Nederland, of Jacques Chirac and Frederico Mayor, General Secretary of the UNESCO. The jury of this ceremony was composed of eminent personalities of politic, science, economy, culture and international press.

P 14/03/2004