The Kennedy Center

Balla Kouyate & World Vision


Balla Kouyaté and his ensemble World Vision put the balafon, a West African ancestor of the marimba, center-stage, promoting awareness of Malian culture and rich musical history.

Balla Kouyaté is considered a balafon virtuoso.  Born in Mali, he was raised in the Djeli tradition, learning from his father at the age of six. He performed for the first time in Bamako, Mali at Palais de la Culture with Malian singer Sanignai Kouyaté. In 1994, he was a member of the renowned Ensemble Nationale du Mali. By 1997 he was granted the opportunity to play with singer Ami Koïta at the O.I.A. conference, which brought together 27 African presidents. Balla has worked extensively with kora master Mamadou Diabaté playing venues such as Lincoln Center Outdoor Festival, Symphony Space, and festivals around the country. He also has worked with Roswell Rudd's MALIcool ensemble. Balla played with Sidiki Condé at Carnegie Hall for a month long residency for children, and has toured the U.S. with many African artists including Sekouba Bambino Diabaté, Mah Kouyaté, Kerfala Kanté, Babani Koné, and Oumou Dioubaté.

Balla’s group, World Vision, is a fusion of his traditional music with Jazz, Blues, Cuban, and other genres.  Their tight-knit melodies and rhythms have wowed audiences at festivals across the country including the 2009 Folk Art Market, the 2008 Lowell Folk Festival and the 2007 Chicago World Music Festival.  Balla’s music has been featured on at least 45 albums, including Yo-Yo Ma’s latest CD Songs of Joy and Peace as well as Angelique Kidjo’s Oyo.

Balla Kouyate & World Vision