Forgotten: Field recordings of West African griots

14a0723a254c273b7e5d76f4d306c2ef487b6c8dWolof Song: Abdu Njai

by Nyama Suso – on the album “Griots: Ministers of the Spoken Word”

This 1975 Smithsonian Folkways recording is long on authenticity, at least as measured in the gap between the melodic tunefulness of the kora and the shout/talk/sing style of West African griots. Forgotify took me to the second song on the second side of this collection of Gambian and Malian griots. I also listened to “Tiramang” by Falie Kuyateh and Nyama Suso.

I actually listen to a lot of West African music in my non-Forgotify Files life, so I’m familiar with the style but these raw field-style recordings are a dimensional jump even from the smartphone recordings of today’s kora and guitar slinging blues griots.

Here’s the Smithsonian Folkways catalog page for the album: Griots: Ministers of the Spoken Word Various Artists FW04178 / FE 4178. I include it here so you can marvel at the informative catalog notes. (This previous is deadpan irony. Do not be fooled.)