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Tune In: Coly Cisse Band

My Magazine 2022/08
12 min
Coly Cisse, a talented acoustic Senegalese guitarist and live band singer, began learning to play the guitar at 17 in the Fatick district of Senegal, where he went to high school. He began his musical career by playing the guitar alongside other musicians, including Youssou Ndour, one of the greatest Senegalese musicians. After playing with Youssou for a year in 1987, he moved to The Gambia, where he began collaborating with other musicians and focused on giving performances at hotels near Kololi. Since then, he has remained here because he loves the country.

He observed that other musicians in The Gambia didn't have a proper sound system, weren't punctual for events, and didn't perform at the level he thought they could. So he decided to form the Coly Cisse Band. Alongside him, the band's founding members were Gambian musicians Musa Plera and Val Lopez, a pianist. Since then, his band has expanded and now includes seven members who are Senegalese, Gambian, Nigerian, Dutch, Belgian, and Sierra Leonean.

He performs in a band and records in a studio, but he also gives a lot of acoustic performances in which only a portion of the band is present.

The group sings both original ndaga songs and well-known reggae covers. He said that we repeatedly play Bob Marley songs or music from other cultures to help people remember them. He answers reggae without hesitation and places a hand on his chest when asked what his favourite musical style is. The same is true of his preferred musician, Bob Marley, who should come as no surprise. "Coly Marley is my second name." He earned this moniker as a result of his excellent voice, musical taste, and performance style impersonation of Bob Marley.

He collaborated on a few albums with well-known musicians, including Youssou Ndur on bass guitar and Viviene on bass on an album with another musician playing lead guitar. Even his album, "Deka Ndor," which was in the Ndaga version, was recorded in Senegal. Coly Cisse and his band are currently preparing to make an album called the "Fuladu Blues," which will have twelve songs with an ancient African feel.

He admits that getting recognised in the music industry in The Gambia is hard. There is a lot of talent. Still, especially for upcoming artists, it is hard to reach good quality studio recordings and promotions without financial support. No producers would be able to push young talents and find sponsors as it is done in other countries.

Every Sunday from 2 to 5 o'clock, the Coly Cisse Band will play music to go along with the renowned Tamala Sunday Brunch and later in the evening at Darboe's in Senegambia. They are frequently present at Poco Loco, particularly on reggae nights on Tuesdays.

''In the future, I'm trying to make up something with the band.'' He wants to join European summertime jam festivals and be back in The Gambia for the high season as they mostly play in tourism-concentrated areas.

He deduced the interview by leaving this message to the world: ''Let's keep peace, love and respect.'' The rest, he told us through the music.

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