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Toumaranke, loosely translated from Susu as
Outsider, are a group of Guinean musicians, mostly based in The Gambia, and one English one. We began in 2009 with four people: Moussa Sylla, Mohammed Okameo Bangoura, Chris Sylla, and the griot Saikou Soumah on balafon. This foursome first did some recording in Gambia in 2010, some of which was released as an EP.
We've been through several changes since. People have played with us for a season or two or we've joined with other musicians for gigs. Chris - as manager, Moussa - as main composer/songwriter and Okameo, remain the core members at the heart of the band. Yamoussa Kossy Camara has been with us forover three years now and seems to have become a permanent member.
On our debut album, Takhaudi Dékau we are a seven piece line up. The core members are joined by griot Mohammed Camara on balafon, Moïse Bangoura and Souleymane Camara.
Hadja Daffy is an essential ingredient in the Toumaranke story – her delicious cooking has sustained the group on many occasions; including the two weeks in Gambia we spent working on our first album in November 2014.
Sound engineer Martin Messent helped us for a couple of years. He recorded, mixed and mastered the album sessions for Toumaranke’s first album release Takhaudi Dékau. He then co-produced this with Chris in the UK in 2015.
Moussa Sylla was born in Tombolia, Conakry, Guinea. His father was a drummer and comedy actor but he went to school so didn’t play much music as a child. In 2002 he persuaded a group of musicians, including Okameo, to come with him (on a Ghanain fishing boat) to Gambia. They performed as Emmanitude Culture in Gambia and Senegal until they split in 2004. He then worked with various other groups and taught traditional African music to Westerners, during which time he met Chris. He settlied in Abene, Cassamance and played with a group called Wassolo from 2008 until 20011/12, when he moved back to in Gambia. Now mostly based there he visits Guinea each year for musical inspiration, runs and teaches African musical workshops with his wife Chris and leads Toumaranke. He's the main musical creator and songwriter although he collaborates with many other musicians, both inside and outside the groupi. With Moussa firmly at the helm Toumaranke have expanded and developed, including recording their debut album in Gambia last year. Main instruments: krin, balafon, gongo, drums - but plays just about everything except kora.
Chris Sylla has been studying traditional West African music since 2000, and teaching it since 2004. She has studied and played in Gambia with many groups and musicians, including Okameo and Moussa. In 2010/11 she worked with Wassolo in Cassamance and attempted to record an album in Gambia with Okameo, Moussa and annother musician, Saikou Soumah. Due to some technical issues much of this was not usable but Toumaranke, as a band, was born at this point. Chris has continued to work in West Africa and started running musical workshops in Gambia with Moussa and Okameo in 2012. She and Moussa were married in Gambia in 2013. Chris teaches West African music in the UK. Main instruments djembe, doundoun, balafon, shakers and voice.
Okameo was born and raised by fisherfolk on Boom, one of the smaller islands in the Isles de Los off the coast of Conakry. Guinea. His mother was a dancer and leader of a local troupe but as a young man he was more interested in football than music! He travelled to Gambia with Moussa and other musicians in 2002 and worked with Emanitude Culture. When the band split he played with various other groups until he settled in Gambia in 2005 where he worked with a group called Bafila until 2011, which was when he first met Chris. He now helps run workshops with her and Moussa as well as playing in Toumaranke. Main instrument bolon but plays gongo, drums and various other things. He's also a fantastic dancer.
Recently married (Nov 8th 2015) you can see some great pictures of his wedding on a friend's blog
Yamoussa Kossy Camara has been with us for a few years now. An enthusiastic and talented gongo player he also plays drums, krin and bolon as well as smaller hand-percussion. Born in Guinea Conakry he moved to Gambia in 2007 and played in various small groups untill joining Toumaranke in 2013.