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Exclusive Premiere: Haruna Kuyateh “Kora Foo”

Afro Worldwide Sounds

New music from a new artist to our ears. Hailing from Gambia and now based in Italy, Haruna Kuyateh is a singer, kora player, and griot. His “Kora Foo” is not only his debut release, but the first release on Apparel Red, a sub-label of Milan-based Apparel Music focused on a more organic, or “live”, sound.

Haruna was born in Gambia, the smallest nation in the African continent, and was raised by his maternal grandparents in a very small village deep within the country. They played and sang at all the ceremonies in the area wherever they went. When he was a kid, his grandfather gave him a small kora and started teaching him to play it while his grandmother taught him to sing. He was taught by great masters and travelled to many countries, learning not only to play his lifelong instrument increasingly well, but also the art of the luthier and how to build it.


In 2011, after playing on stage in his country and improvising a song that denounced the ruling dictator, the police came looking for him. The officers couldn’t believe that such bold words could came from such a skinny little boy and they procrastinated long enough for him to make an escape. He crossed the desert and arrived in Libya where he worked hard to earn enough money to pay for a boat to cross the sea to Italy.

Now he plays music on the street with a sense of familiarity, since in Africa everything takes place on the street, so it’s just a natural thing for a musician. He made himself known on social media and was contacted, especially by compatriots, to compose music. He gives kora lessons and plays with both traditional and more experimental contemporary bands.

As a ‘griot’, music is something that comes from within. It’s his weapon, not a tool for profit. African culture has always been handed down orally rather than in written form and griots held a responsibility to transmit stories, knowledge and culture. This purpose is handed down from father to son. Griots listen, remember and tell the stories of families and centuries-old traditions, giving the community identity and pride. Overtime, to make the stories more relatable, they accompanied them with music and often ended up becoming excellent musicians.

‘Kora Foo’, Haruna Kuyateh’s record, is composed of the original song “Kora Foo” and an instrumental version, both mixed by Tuccillo and mastered by Lopazz at the Mixmastering.de studios.

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