The first Festival Acoustik Bamako had a stellar lineup. Despite recent terrorist attacks, musical legends from far and wide congregated in Mali’s capital to show their support, their defiance and to bask in Mali’s wonderful music scene.
Gary Dourdan (aka Warrick Brown on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) was invited to play at the festival with his band. Turns out – lots of selfies and a ceremonial staff later – he’s got plenty of fans in Mali.
How did you come to be in Mali for the festival?
I’ve always wanted to come to Mali. It wasn’t until I started to play around Paris with Cheick Tidiane Seck that it became more of a possibility. I’d come to support and play with Cheick at the UNESCO benefit after the attacks in Bamako.
The music in Mali is pure. Any musician of any genre needs to go to Mali.
I think music and artists giving support is one of the best ways to spread awareness… but I had no idea if anyone would know who I was in Bamako.
After all I’m known mainly as an actor. Honestly, I came to spread love and support and awareness and to show the people of Mali that they can and will get through this.
The music in Mali is pure. Any musician of any genre needs to go to Mali. It is life changing; it’s like an intensive at Berkley or Juilliard. The extra benefit was being with the masters Toumani Diabaté and meeting (finally!) Salif Keita.
I’ve been a massive fan of Damon Albarn and Tony Allen for years. My father introduced me to Tony Allen’s music when I was 13.
I’m in my 40s now, and I don’t think one Englishman has introduced the world to Africa’s music as much as Damon save for Peter Gabriel. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
My Malian name is Kolâde Kouyaté. I plan to work very hard in carrying on this tradition.
It was the best seeing artists you admire perform together. I hope it keeps happening.
Were you surprised at the welcome you received? You seem to be a household name in Mali!
To be honest, I had no idea that I was this well… popular in Mali. I’m still in shock. I’m there as a fan of these great musicians and I have to admit it was a bit distracting to get attention and having to take pictures with people on their phones when I was the one having a HUGGGE FAN MOMENT with TONY ALLEN!!!!
On Saturday you were given a Malian name during a traditional ceremony and a road was named in your honour in the village in Kirrina. How has the trip affected you and your music?
What happened on Sunday I’m still processing. I’ve been given a truly massive honour and responsibility. My Malian name is Kolâde Kouyaté. I plan to work very hard in carrying on this tradition, passing on the heritage of the great Kingdom of Mali and raising awareness.
I’m floored actually. But I know that now is the right time. We need griots now more than ever. A lot of information is NOT getting through. People need hope.
Find Gary on Twitter @garydourdan
Find out more about the Festival Acoustik Bamako