Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba | The Great Peace

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The Great Peace

by Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba

Ancient sounds find a modern voice; African music embraces its American offspring -- and the result is a fresh and exhilarating cross-cultural musical experience.
Genre: World: African
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. Mbolo (Unity)
Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba
5:55 album only
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2. Alanole (No One Can Know God)
Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba
5:39 album only
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3. Bamba Wotena (Amadu Bamba Is Calling)
Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba
8:26 album only
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4. Al Hadji (My Brother, Gone)
Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba
5:48 album only
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5. Talibe (Our Lost Boys)
Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba
5:35 album only
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6. Fallou (The Guardian)
Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba
5:13 album only
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7. Yur Mande (Compassion)
Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba
5:21 album only
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8. Balla Gueye (The Wrestler)
Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba
5:06 album only
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9. Mère Khadi (My Heart, Returned)
Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba
8:18 album only
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10. Baay Faal (Baye Fall)
Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba
5:47 album only
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11. Sida (Aids)
Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba
7:24 album only

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
“Kaira Ba” (pronounced “KAI rah bah”) is a Mandinka phrase meaning “the great peace” or “peace and love.” The Mandinka belong to West Africa's largest ethno­linguistic group, the Mande. The flagship instrument of Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba is the kora, a 21­ or 22­stringed bridge­harp from West Africa. The strings of the kora are made of fishing line and they resonate through a large, halved gourd stretched with a cowhide. Traditionally, the kora is played by Mandinka Jalis and Mande Jelis (“griots” in French), members of a special caste of society that work as musicians and oral historians. They are walking libraries of information and history; artisans of speech and sound. Diali Keba Cissokho was born into a griot family who can trace their musical roots back over many generations. Diali can name for you nineteen grandfathers who played kora and sang. His own father began teaching him the family instrument at the tender age of five.
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1. Mbolo Unity (5:56)
Mbolo can be translated as “Unity". Diali demonstrates Mbolo by removing one of his metal bracelets from his wrist: with only one, there can be no sound when he shakes his fist, but once you add a second and a third, the sound emerges. This is the power of Mbolo, or coming together to raise our voices. It means we can't accomplish everything alone. We need compatriots. We need friends and allies. Diali sings: “no matter where you are from or who you are, we need to come together.” The chorus “Mbolo moy sunu dole" means there is great power in our common strength.

2. Alanole No One Can Know God (5:39)
Alanole is Kaira Ba’s version of an old Mande traditional piece called Keme Burama. The piece can be dated to the late 19th century, and was originally composed on the bala, a Mande wooden xylophone. It is traditionally used to tell the story of Almami Samory Touré, a late nineteenth­century general and war figure in Guinea. In our version, Diali is singing about how a person can have intention, but can't ultimately control everything that may come to pass in their life: “No matter what you believe, the world will unravel on its own terms.” Diali sings about one of his closest brothers, Khewsou Cissokho, who passed away suddenly in 2013, carrying with him many plans for the future.

3. Bamba Wotena Amadu Bamba Is Calling (8:27)
Amadou Bamba Mbàcke (1853–1927) is a tremendously important figure in Senegal. He produced an impressive quantity of poems and tracts on meditation, rituals, work, and Qur’anic study, and was a leader in the struggle against French colonialism. During his French­imposed exile, stories emerged of Bamba's miraculous survival of torture, deprivation, and attempted executions. On a ship to Gabon, forbidden from praying, Bamba is said to have broken his leg­irons, leapt overboard into the ocean and prayed on a prayer rug that appeared on the
surface of the water. Eventually Bamba returned to his home in Touba and it was celebrated as a miracle. When Kaira Ba sings "Bamba wotena, nyan len dem" during the chorus, we are saying, “Let's go there!” To merely set foot in the sacred land of Touba is a blessing in itself.

4. Al Hadji My Brother, Gone (5:48)
This song pays homage to Diali's younger brother Al Hadji, who is named after the Hadj, the great pilgrimage to Mecca taken by many Muslims. He was a prolific musician and taught himself how to play every instrument he could find, though his best instrument was the djembe. Al Hadji passed away after returning from a European tour, surrounded by family and friends. He was 23. The lyrics of Al Hadji express that he was an amazing person who is dearly missed. The chorus, "Al Hadji dem na" means "Al Hadji is leaving us."

5. Talibe Our Lost Boys (5:36)
Diali’s mom, Mossu Keba Diebate, would sing this tune as a lullaby to Diali’s nephew, Mamadou, when he was a young child. From memory, Mamadou picked up the tune on his kora. Years later, after Mossu Keba’s death, Diali borrowed this tune from Mamadou (as often happens) and wrote lyrics for it that speak about orphaned children (called “talibe”) in Senegal. When Diali sings the chorus, he is calling out to the Talibe, reminding us that each child is precious and should be honored and cared for.

6. Fallou the Guardian (5:14)
Fallilou Mbacké was a son of Amadou Bamba and leader of the Mouride Brotherhood, an Islamic Sufi order indigenous to Senegal, from 1945 until his death in 1968. He received his name from an angel, who wrote it in the moonlit sky when his mother and father were on the backyard patio of their house. It had been 6 days since his birth, and he was to be named on the 7th. Writing a song for Fallilou is a way for Diali to show thanks for helping him through life like a guardian angel. In Fallou Diali calls, "Al hadji Fallou bakh" (Fallou is great) and Kaira Ba responds with Fallou’s honorable last name, "Mbacké balla aye sa."

7. Yur Mande Compassion (5:21)
Not everyone is born with the same opportunities. This song is about cultivating compassion in our hearts, and offering it to others with humility and love. Diali sings, “Everywhere you go, you have to take compassion with you. People aren’t given wealth in order to keep it. You must share it.”

8. Balla Gueye the Wrestler (5:07)
The most popular sport in Senegal is the traditional style of wrestling (Laamb in Wolof), and Balla Gueye is Diali’s favorite wrestler and longtime friend. They met as teenagers when they both
played on the same soccer team, before Balla began wrestling professionally. Balla is known for contributing his winnings from wrestling to humanitarian programs in Senegalese villages, helping to build hospitals, schools, and to fight poverty. He has also spoken out against violence towards women, and helped to fund a home for abandoned children in Senegal’s capital, Dakar. When Kaira Ba sings, “Balla, dole ya ko mo,” it means “Balla, your presence holds great power.”

9. Mère Khadi My Heart, Returned (8:17)
This praise song is a way of Diali paying his respect and offering his appreciation to Mère Khadi, Diali’s marabout (spiritual leader). When Diali first met her, he felt as if a missing piece of his heart was returned to him. She watches over him and brings him good luck. When Kaira Ba echos Diali’s vocal calls with “Je t’aime!” they are sending love out to her and the others in our lives who look over us.

10. Baay Faal Baye Fall (5:47)
Baye Fall is a sect of the Mouride Brotherhood and was founded by Amadou Bamba and Mame Chera Fall. Followers of Baye Fall use dedication and work for others as a way of prayer and showing thanks to God. Many Baye Fall followers wear their hair in dreadlocks in the same way as Mame Chera Fall did. Dreadlocks came to Mame naturally because he was working so hard for Amadou Bamba, and he didn't care about his appearance. This work ethic inspires today’s followers. When Kaira Ba sings, "Dile bige baay faal," it means, "Baye Fall, I'm happy to see you," a common expression shared among followers in Senegal.

11. Sida AIDS (7:26)
SIDA is the French acronym for AIDS. This song is about the importance of continuing to raise awareness of HIV. Diali sings about an all­too­common problem in Senegal, where people get sick with HIV without knowing what is ailing them, or keep it a secret because of local stigmas, taboos, and general misinformation about the disease. Diali sings, "SIDA! We are exhausted of being constantly reminded of you." This song is in memory of the many lives that have been lost and is written with the hope of increasing awareness of the disease.

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Credits =====================================================================

Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba is:
Diali Keba Cissokho: Kora, Lead Vocals, Sabar
John Westmoreland: Electric and Acoustic Guitar
Jonathan Henderson: Upright and Electric Bass, Bass VI, Dunduns Austin McCall: Drum Set, Dunduns, Percussion
Will Ridenour: Djembe, Sabar, Congas, Percussion
Mame Cheikh Njigal Dieng: Sabar, Thiol

Additional Musicians:
Hilary Stewart Cissokho: Backing Vocals on Alanole, Mbolo, Balla Gueye, Mère Khadi, Talibe
Jim Henderson: Alto and Tenor Saxophone on Mbolo, Balla Gueye, Al Hadji
Quran Karriem: Trombone on Mbolo, Balla Gueye, Al Hadji
Zack Rider: Trumpet on Mbolo, Balla Gueye, Al Hadji
Gabriele Pelli: Accompanying and Solo Violin on Alanole
Jim Westmoreland: Accompanying Violin on Alanole Mark Simonsen: Organ on Bamba Wotena

Recorded by Jason Richmond at Fidelitorium Recordings in Kernersville, NC in October 2013. Mixed by Jason Richmond. Additional tracking done by Jason Richmond at SoundPure in Durham, NC and by Steve Vertigan at Soggy Dog Recording in Upwey, Victoria, Australia. Mastered by Gavin Lurssen at Lurssen Mastering in Hollywood, CA. Horn arrangements by Jonathan Henderson with assistance from Jim Henderson and Kaira Ba. Packaging design and layout by Cherie Westmoreland.

All songs written, produced and © 2014 by Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba

We’d like to offer our deepest and heartfelt thanks to Hilary Stewart Cissokho, The Stewart Family, Jes Kelley, Jim Henderson, Jan Tedder, Liayn "Adama" Parks, Rex & Susan McCall, Deb Rosinsky, Warren Schonfeld, Bill & Susan Ridenour, Jim & Cherie Westmoreland, Tom Westmoreland, Gabriel Pelli, Linda Brittain, Mike Flowers, Neal Apple, Jason Richmond, and Carolina Friends School. Special thanks to Rachel Juren & Robin Leftwich, Greg Darden, Gary & Laura Mason, Carole Stern & Greg Garneau, Barbara Dua & Family, Joe McCall, and Frank Orthel.

Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba can be contacted at www.KairaBaMusic.com and info@KairaBaMusic.com.

Dedicated to the memory of Khewsou Cissokho

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