Mande Foly is a collective of musicians & dancers who perform traditions of West Africa, Mande referring to a region which predates national boundaries, and which bridges many smaller ethnic groups together as one. The group features several West Africans, and although they may come from different countries, their ancestry, and a vast repertoire of music & dance, is linked through Mande.
The music of Mande Foly is dynamic and improvisational, rooted in a strong rhythm section. Along with the syncopated harmonies between the kamale n’goni, balafon, guitar, and call & response singing, the music of Mande Foly delivers a hypnotic experience that attracts people of all ages and backgrounds. Lyrics, sung in Bambara and French, delve within topics such as social consciousness, conflict, and love for one another.
The instrumentation of Mande Foly reflects a bridge between past and present times, utilizing predominantly traditional instruments but also including acoustic and electric guitars. The traditional instruments include: the kamale n’goni, a 14-stringed harp-like instrument; the balafon, an instrument related to the modern xylophone; the calabasse, a gourd that has been halved and played with the hands; the djembe, a goblet-shaped hand drum; and dununs, cylindrical drums played with sticks.
The following African artists are part of the greater collective known as Mande Foly: Arouna Diarra (n’goni & balafon; Burkina Faso), Adama Dembele (calabasse & djembe; Ivory Coast), Barakissa Coulibaly (percussion & dance; Ivory Coast), and Moussa Kone (guitar; Ivory Coast). Notable westerners that have played with Mande Foly and that are part of our “extended family” include: Ryan Reardon (bass; Zansa), Patrick Fitzsimons (guitar; Zansa), Biko Casini (calabasse & djembe; Rising Appalachia) Drew Heller (guitar; Toubab Krewe), and Justin Perkins (n’goni & kora; Toubab Krewe), among others.
“Mande” refers to the Mandingue region of West Africa. “Foly” means, “to play.”