About 10 years ago, I went to an African music and storytelling night. The host explained “Griot,” pronounced Gree-oh, is a West African word that describes a very important person in their community. Griots are storytellers, historians, and musicians who pass down lessons, language, and traditions by word of mouth. Prince Diabate, in the YouTube video below, shares a very powerful sentiment, “When a Griot dies, it is like a library burns.”
In honor of world storytelling day, I thought to share a picture from the music and storytelling night I attended in the blog post header picture. And share some wonderful traditions and music from some West African Griots in the videos below.
To learn more about World Storytelling Day and this year’s theme, “Wise Fools,” visit here.
Prince Diabate, Modern Day Griot Explains Ancient Storytelling Tradition
From the YouTube Description: “From the archives of footage shot during the production of the hip hop album entitled Uprising by Imiuswi Aborigine ~ Prince Diabate, a griot musician from West Africa featured on the song Village and Involuntary Servitude, takes time from recording to speak about the griot legacy and the tradition of oral history.”
The Griot tradition of West Africa | Sibo Bangoura | TEDxSydney
From the YouTube Description: While playing the Kora, Sibo sang a traditional West African song, Nan Fulie, about the importance of the Griot people. Griots are West African musicians, storytellers, custodians, and teachers of tradition through music and dance. He finishes with an improvisation on the Djembe (drum). Sibo Bangoura is a Griot (musical family lineage) from Guinea, West Africa now living in Australia, and sharing the traditions of his musical heritage with people all over the world.
On the Road with Bob Holman: The Griots of West Africa
From the YouTube description: A griot (gree-oh) is the keeper of the West African oral tradition and the tribe’s genealogy through poetic songs. Bob is invited to Gambia by his long-time friend and teacher, Papa Susso, to learn more about this musical art and see how the kora, the 21-string harp-lute is made. Bob travels up the Niger River with Papa’s son, Karamo, also a griot, in search of the spirit of the African-American Beat poet, Ted Joans, who lived a buoyant life in Timbuktu in the 70s and was Bob’s mentor. Along the way, Bob discovers the roots of hip-hop, rap, the blues — all the great American musical traditions that originated in Africa. The episode concludes with a kora-guitar jam session between Karamo and Ali Farka Toure’s son, Vieux.
Do You Speak Djembe? | Doug Manuel | TEDxHollywood
From the YouTube Description: Doug Manuel has been building bridges between Africa and the occident for more than 20 years. His latest project ‘Do You Speak Djembe?’ brings together a band of world-class African and international musicians in an innovative fusion of music and rhythm from different cultures. The public also perform, each audience member with a Djembe drum – these are the ingredients of a unique musical that has performed more than 100 concerts across Europe since 2014. A part of the proceeds of the show go to ‘Lighting Up Lives’ Doug’s initiative that brings solar energy to Abéné, a rural village in Senegal, West Africa. This unique interactive musical will debut their first show in the United States at TEDxHollywood.