Gao Hong & Kadialy Kouyate
CATID: EUCD2963 | Label: ARC Music
RELEASE DATE FRIDAY 24th MARCH 2023
March 24th, 2023 sees the release of Terri Kunda – an exciting collaborative album from musical virtuosos Gao Hong and Kadialy Kouyate.
One could consider Terri Kunda to be a truly unique album. For it contains the rare yet captivating combination of possibly two of world music’s most mesmerising instruments: the Chinese pipa, and the West African kora. Infused within these stringed instruments are the histories and traditions of their respective cultures, and they share these stories through musical conversations skilfully conducted by the artists.
“Gao Hong belongs under the category of fine wine... the more you listen, the more beautiful it gets.”
- People’s Music Magazine, Beijing
Gao Hong is a renowned Chinese pipa master, composer, and performer. Having already received accolades such as the Beijing Art Cup, she graduated from Beijing’s esteemed Central Conservatory of Music after studying with pipa master Lin Shicheng. She soon moved to the United States, where she has performed at multiple notable festivals and concerts and continued to amass an impressive array of awards and honours. Gao is a recipient of the prestigious Bush Artist Fellowship, a 2018 Sally Award, and became the only artist in any genre to be awarded five McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians. Also the author of the first English language pipa method book, Gao’s career is as colourful and varied as her music. A luminary steeped in the art of collaboration, Gao has performed across the globe and visited genres such as Afro-American jazz, bluegrass, klezmer, and pop, to name just a few. Long fascinated by the kora, Gao’s innate musical curiosity led her to be put in touch with…
“Kadialy’s fleet-fingered skills on this mesmerizing instrument
complement his hauntingly, darkly beautiful voice.”
- Time Out London
Kadialy Kouyate is a Senegalese musician, singer, songwriter, and teacher. Born to a family rich in griot tradition, Kouyate has honed the art of traditional storytelling. The study of past heritage and his own instinctive talent helps conjure hypnotic and uplifting rhythms masterfully relayed through the kora and his hauntingly evocative vocals. A committed educator, Kadialy began teaching the kora at Dakar University in Senegal. Upon moving to the UK his passion for sharing knowledge continues as a tutor at the SOAS University of London. Kouyate has also become a significant player in the London music scene. His contribution adding a griot flavour to the city’s vibrant multicultural musical mixing pot. In 2012, he toured with the Royal Shakespeare Company on their unique production of Julius Caesar, performing across the UK, Moscow, and the United States. Beyond music, Kadialy was part of the remake of the classic TV mini-series Roots as a performer, cultural consultant, and dialect coach.
For Terri Kunda, Hong and Kouyate merge their considerable talents. Pipa meets kora. Cultures and histories entwine in melodious rhythms. Spontaneous creativity abounds.
Composing the songs of the album was relatively simple. The performers agreed to lead half of the songs each. Alternating per piece to fashion the musical backbone allowed the other space to weave themselves into the dance intuitively.
Collaborative art is rarely without challenges, though. As Gao explains…
“In the studio, we realised that there were more challenges than either of us had anticipated. When I have played with other instruments, or artists, most are very melodic even though our scales are different. But with African music, so much of it is rhythm.”
Insightfully, Kadialy suggested to “just feel the music and let that lead the way”, and Gao agreed. A direct result of such a bold approach is the track Between Stars. A fully freestyle improvisation in which the artists found a connection to the other’s music through their very hearts.
Throughout the album, the instruments converse, they forge an understanding. A complimentary bond. A friendship.
This connection is no more clearly displayed than through the song House of Friendship (Terri Kunda). An ode to companionship. A tale of compassion, of acceptance, and honest expression. Of how friendship should be. An encapsulation of the fellowship the artists have formed.
Gao Hong and Kadialy Kouyate invite you to join their house of friendship. Their Terri Kunda.