Koko Dembele

Biography

Koko Dembele is a reggae artist from Mali. As coming from a griot family, it was difficult for “Igofrey” to take another direction than music in life. His father was a percussionist and exercised the familial profession of shoemaker and used to animate the traditional feast of the village. His wife always accompanied him; they were the stars of the traditional ceremonies of christening, circumcision, of wedding or rejoicing ceremonies for fructuous harvests. Koko was always present, so it’s in this ambiance that he began at the age of seven to play percussion near his father.

By accompanying his father, he discovered his home country Mali with its rich historical heritage in cities like Bandiagara (capital of the Dogon country) and Gao, Djenné and Timbuktu. “With my parents, I’ve learned the oral tradition, the history of the jalis (griots) and their role in the African society”, Koko explains.” The jalis are the counsellors of the kings or princes and, today, of the presidents. They are philosophers, ambassadors, and master of the word, guardians of the traditions, social and cultural animators, musicians or masters of ceremonies”.

From 1976 to 1986, after ten years of work and researches, Koko became the solo guitar player of the famous orchestra of Mopti: The Kanaga; a regional band that became a national band under the direction of Sory Bamba. Through his successful interpretations of Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, etc. Koko Dembele soon established himself as the main singer of the group.

In 1982, The Kanaga took part in the festival of the Zone II in Dakar where 12 countries of Africa were invited. That led to another invitation, to the “festival métisse d’ Angoulême” in France were they met several other bands of the world. In 1993, Koko Dembele composed and sang “Amagni”, a song denouncing lies, robbery, and corruption and exhorting the men of every country to become dignified and good.

In the meantime, Koko went to Abidjan to begin a solo career. At that time, the region was the reckoned platform of the African showbiz. There he met bandleader and producer Boncana Maïga. Their collaboration led in 1993 to “Baguinée” with the track ”Amagni.” This first work had a huge success out of the continent and especially in Brazil. This was the beginning of Koko Dembele’s international success. In April 1997, Koko was the fourth distinguished guest after Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson and Paul Simon at the 18th festival of Olodum. The artist was at the top of all the Hits parades of his country.

This phenomenal success allowed him an international opening and he released a new album called “Tendoro”. He then undertook a tour that led him to France, Germany and Switzerland.

After his return from Europe, he went on to tour in all the principal towns of Ivory Coast and Mali. In Mali, he stayed at the top of the hit parades during two years. After this success, the artist vanished for a moment to prepare his new album, “Yèrèdon”.