San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Karamo Susso is a kora player from Gambia west Africa. Growing up in a griot compound in Mali, he started playing kora as a tiny child, and was performing for large crowds before he was even big enough to hold the instrument by himself. Fully immersed in the tradition, he learned from world-renowned players like his uncles Ballake Sissoko and Toumani Diabate. Karamo then began touring throughout West Africa, playing with such great musicians as Ballake sissoko, Toumani Diabate, Vieux Farka Toure (son of Ali Farka Toure), and Sambou Susso the Queen of Afro-Manding. He performed for national stadiums in Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal as a featured soloist with UNESCO's Fescuao Mali, and for the President's personal events in The Gambia. He made frequent appearances on national TV and radio. In Gambia, he was Composition Director, advisor and lead kora player for the Female Artists' Association in Gambia. A natural engineer, he rapidly boosted Gambian music with his production work at The Gambia YMCA, and went on to open his own studio, Kapamis Production. Since his arrival in America, Karamo has played at university lecture halls and clubs with everyone from fellow world music stars to funk, jazz, and hip-hop groups. Audiences have been mesmerized and moved by his evocative music. The kora is the 21-stringed harp lute of West Africa. Tradition tells that djinns brought it into this world and gave it to the griots: families whose place in the culture was to sing the epics of heroes and relate histories. The griots played kora and sang in court to praise the kings, and in the villages to carry news and to celebrate traditional ceremonies. The music is intricate, elegant, and potent. It is sweet while strong, percussive while lyrical, active while calm. Centuries of complex tradition are heard in it.
When & Where
La Peña is a community cultural center with a national reputation and a global vision that promotes peace, social justice and cultural understanding through the arts, education and social action.
As a welcoming gathering place, La Peña provides opportunities for artists to share diverse cultural traditions, to create and perform their work, and to support and interface with diverse social movements.
Annually, La Peña presents over 200 events with emerging and established artists; organizes an arts education program; produces new works by local artists, presents internationally and nationally renowned artists, and houses a Latin American cafe which complements the organization's mission.