Lisner hosts African musicians

World music will take hold of Lisner Auditorium this weekend, as performers Habib Koité and Dobet Gnahoré take the stage, showcasing African music, percussion and dance.

The show, scheduled for Thursday, April 16, is the only one of its kind – uniting the artists for a co-headlining event – as each is on a separate tour. Koité and Gnahoré last performed together almost three years ago, and the upcoming performance is the only event in North America bringing the two artists together, said a representative from the label that represents both Koité and Gnahoré.

Koité, who has been lauded by “Rolling Stone” for the quality of his guitar playing, is a native of Mali, a country in Western Africa. He credits his large family with first introducing him to music and influencing his sound – one based on integrating Malian music with blues and flamenco.

Koité will perform with his six-member band Bamada, who received global attention following the release of their first single, “Cigarette A Bana,” and their first album, “Muso Ko,” which reached the No. 2 slot on the European World music charts.

Koité and Bamada will share the stage with Gnahoré, known for her energetic vocal and dance performances and her ability to sing in multiple languages: seven African languages, as well as in French. The performer is originally from the Ivory Coast and recently relocated to Marseille, France.

The label Cumbancha, which releases albums from both artists in North America, also releases music from artists representing countries like Israel, Belize, Guatemala, Peru and the United States. The intention of the label, said Simeon Chapin, marketing director of Cumbancha, is to expose these artists to a wider audience.

“Habib and Dobet are really at the top of their form,” he said, speaking to the label’s commitment to the performers. “Habib is probably the most recognizable artist coming out of Africa today.”

“Dobet has a similar approach as an artist that takes influence from Africa,” he added. “She has an ability to capture everyone’s attention in the room,” he said, citing the performer’s work as not only a vocalist but as a percussionist and dancer. He noted that the label he represents values performers who have the ability to captivate an audience not only on an album, but with a live performance.

Habib Koité and Dobet Gnahoré will perform at Lisner Auditorium on Thursday, April 16 at 8 p.m. Tickets are priced at $15 for GW students and are available at the Lisner box office and through Ticketmaster.com.

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