Tribute to the “electric griot”: Mory Kanté, the famous Guinean singer and musician, died at the age of 70

Tribute to the “electric griot”: Mory Kanté, the famous Guinean singer and musician, died at the age of 70.

Guinea and all African countries are in tears. The exceptional singer and musician Mory Kanté passed away at the age of 70 from a long illness on 22 May 2020, in a hospital in Conakry. He was known for his hit Yéké yéké in 1988.

Nicknamed the “electric griot”, he had contributed to the popularisation of African and Guinean music throughout the world, becoming a reference point for African youth, explains Senegalese singer Ismaël Lo.


A few words about his remarkable career.

Crédit photo : Mory Kanté

  • Date of birth: 29.3.1950. Place of birth: Albadaria or Kissidougou prefecture.
  • Deceased on 22/05/2020
  • Music genre: World Music
  • Career start: 1971

Mory Kanté was born on March 29, 1950 in Albadaria, French Guinea to a Malian mother and a Guinean father.

He comes from a family of griots, poets, singers, historians and journalists. In his childhood, he was introduced to traditional rituals, singing and balafon. Very talented, he participates in many official ceremonies where he reveals all his talent as a singer and musician. While learning the guitar, he developed a passion for electrified music. He listens to Congolese rumba, English pop, chachacha, mambo from Cuba. He also learned to play the Kora, which was to become one of his favourite instruments.

He will continue his training at the Institute of Arts in Bamako, Mali. But in 1969, he stopped his training and played in various orchestras.

At the age of 21, he was spotted by the saxophonist, Tidiani Koné, from Salif Keita’s band in 1971. He offered him the opportunity to join the group, Rail Band from Bamako, whose singer was the Malian Salif Keïta.


His music

His style is a fusion of modern and traditional music. He propelled African and Guinean music around the world with his hit single Yéké yéké in 1988. The single went on to sell over a million copies and was number 1 in several countries around the world. It was crowned “Golden Voice” in Nigeria in 1976. In 1988 he was awarded a “Victoire de la musique” for the best French-language album. In 1990, the album “Touma” was awarded a gold disc in France. He went on to perform at the most important festivals and toured the world. In 2001, he was appointed Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.


His funeral

Guinean artist’s funeral took place on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 with Manding songs and griots in the company of his friends and family.



  • 2012 : La Guinéenne
  • 2004 : Sabou
  • 2001 : Tamala – Le voyageur
  • 1996 : Tatebola
  • 1994 : Nongo village
  • 1990 : Touma
  • 1987 : Akwaba Beach
  • 1986 : 10 kola nuts
  • 1984 : A Paris
  • 1982 : N’Diarabi
  • 1981 : Courougnegne


International tribute

Many personalities and Internet users have paid tribute to him on social networks.



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