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Gambian Sounds: Ansumana Susso

My Magazine 2022/04
10 min
Ansumana Suso is a young talented instrumentalist born to the Suso family, a griot family in the Gambia's traditional Mandinka society. His father, Mawdo Suso and his great grandfather were musicians. They were players of the kora, balafon and other traditional instruments.

Ansumana was born into griot family. His father plays balafon, his mom is a singer, and also all his brothers are involved in the music. As everybody in the family was familiar with the balafon, Ansumana was the first one to introduce them kora, which today is an instrument, that would first be associated with him. Many believe he is the best kora player in the modern music world of The Gambia.

Kora was actually the first instrument he learned to play, continuing with the family tradition of the balafon, which he never felt was challenging as no one ever forced him to play. The instruments were more like toys so he just used them and learned to play.

˝I learned to play the instrument like I learnt to talk. I just saw myself playing them˝.

Ansumana followed his parents around in different programmes playing balafon, kora, and dancing. He became well known for his extraordinary talent around the country and started collaborating with the bands. He played in restaurants and hotels to entertain the crowd. Somewhere along the way of his musical path, he also learned to play djembe, dundun and drums. With his knowledge of other instruments, he easily learned the acoustic guitar, which he usually stole from his father to play behind his back.

After being noticed, Ansumana started to collaborate with many artists. He played various instruments in their recordings and performed with them on the live shows and music videos. Some artists in The Gambia he has played for are ST Brikama Boyo, Barhama, Jizzle, Nobles, Jalimadi Kanuteh and more. Internationally he has played for Wally Secka of Senegal, Sizzla Kalonji of Jamaica, and many Nigerian artists. But as we talked with him, we got the feeling that the only thing that matters for him is the music. Not where he should perform, with who or which instrument he is to use.

He has also travelled around the world, playing on international stages. To name just a few, in 2017, he played at the Jazz Festival in Denmark with his group called Gambian Folk Project. They had a long tour around Denmark from February to July that year. He also played at a festival named Hestival in Belgium and with Jalimadi Kanuteh at a concert in Gent and Antwerp. With the band Afrotuba, he performed in Poland. In November 2017, he represented Africa in India with his brother at Bangalore World Music Festival. He also went back to Denmark in 2018 to perform at the festival and toured around with his group.

Ansumana is one of the most prominent young instrumentalists in The Gambia, playing in concerts, private events, restaurants and hotels. He continues to amaze people with his talent.

With so much talent and skills acquired through the years, he doesn't keep the knowledge to himself, today offering lessons in traditional and contemporary instruments to fellow Gambians and visitors of the Gambia, showing interest in conventional instruments. He teaches master classes with professionals. While in Denmark, he held many classes about African music in some of the prominent institutions such as the music conservatorium in Esbjerg and high schools such as Rytmiske Højskole, Søndeeborg MGK and Silkeborg højskole, to mention just a few.

Follow Ansumana on social media to learn about his upcoming performances and enjoy the energy and harmony he brings to the stage.

Follow Ansumana

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