Here’s what people are saying about Kaira Ba

Routes is “a genuinely and often beautifully syncretic evocation of a double identity that would be hard to match and impossible to duplicate.”

– Robert Christgau writing for Noisey / Vice

Routes is “in its essence Senegalese but with a universality that translates beautifully across cultures… Diali seems to have struck gold by staying true to his roots while finding musicians to communicate with on his route back home.”

– Afropop Worldwide

“As a band leader, Diali Cissokho has a commanding voice, and excellent kora skills; he is clearly a great composer with a visionary approach to the integration of other genres with his Senegalese roots. [Routes] is up there with the groundbreaking recordings of Thione Seck, Baaba Maal and Youssou N’Dour.”

– Songlines

“Diali Cissokho, Kaira Ba’s bandleader and kora player, hails from a long line of Griot musicians in Senegal. But moving an ocean away from his musical past has only strengthened Cissokho’s resolve to enliven the traditional sound. With four Tar Heel natives behind him, Cissokho & Kaira Ba create a universally appealing sound full of bright tones and driving polyrhythm.”

– Paste Magazine

“The dynamics at work within this five-piece—the way the songs build, spiral and surge into moments of sudden triumph—should sync well with new Western listeners. Kaira Ba just might be the state’s next great export.”

– Grayson Currin, Indy Weekly

“The powerful vocals and kora of Diali Cissokho place this album firmly in the tradition of great Senegalese musicians such as Baaba Maal & Youssou N’Dour. The collaboration with NC musicians of Kaira Ba only makes the album more unique.”

– Mac McCaughan, Merge Records

“Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba is “my strongest recommendation for a must-see new band on the rise. The West African harp-lute may be dreamy and poetic solo, but Cissokho uses it to stoke a bluelight basement party in Kaira Ba… Diali’s natural charisma as a vocal performer may come from his centuries-old griot heritage, but he will also put you in mind of Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and other griots of New World soul.”

– Sylvia Pfeiffenberger, Onda Carolina

“Truly mesmerizing… a unique brand of dance music for the 21st Century.”

– Jam Room Music Fest 2013

“I’ve been here for 12 years, and this is the best band I’ve ever seen here!”

– Leslie Pierce, Programs Director, Columbia Museum of Art

“At once unique and universal”

-Frank Stasio, NPR’s the State of Things

“Diali Cissokho is a griot — a caste of singing African historians and storytellers — from Senegal. Kaira Ba’s players — guitarist John Westmoreland, bassist Jonathan Henderson, drummer Austin McCall and percussionist Will Ridenour — are university- and master musician-educated musicians with as much experience playing the blues and folk indigenous to their North Carolina home as African forms. But their collaboration is a communal and creative cross-cultural conversation that uses polyrhythmic frameworks for explorations into lengthy and heady jams that have equal footing in musics African and American.”

– Patrick Wall, Columbia Free Times

For the past decade, kora player and singer Diali Cissokho has called North Carolina home. Hailing from a long line of Senegalese musicians and storytellers known as griots, Cissokho made the transatlantic move to Pittsboro with his wife almost ten years ago. Shortly afterward, he formed the band Kaira Ba with the aid of several like-minded Piedmont musicians. Together, they blend the traditions and rhythms of West African music with subtle timbres of the American South. While comparison has been drawn to other notable Senegalese griots, such as Baaba Maal or Youssou N’Dour, the fusion of polyrhythmic percussion, plucky electric guitars, and sprinkles of pedal steel and electric organs makes for a much more individualistic, accessible sound. In essence, Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba makes dance music that bridges the continental divide.

– Sam Haw, Indyweek


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