After releasing three albums in ten years as part of the Sousou&Maher Cissoko duo, Maher Cissoko is now ready to present his first solo album. ‘Kora Fo’ (“the kora speaks” in Mandinka) is being released by Swedish label ajabu! and is an exciting step for a unique artist. Maher Cissoko grew up in southern Senegal but is currently based in Sweden and has established himself as a well known name on the folk and world music scene. Sousou&Maher Cissoko has toured all over the world and won numerous awards. The solo album ‘Kora Fo’ is an intimate musical experience with complete focus on Maher’s relationship to the kora. The album is characterised by rhythm, musicality and was inspired by both Maher’s own family roots and his current life in urban Sweden. All songs are written by Maher and touches on his travels and meeting new people, even though many of the rhythms are sprung from household chores and everyday life. The backbone of Maher Cissoko’s music is the kora, a West African 21-string harp. The art of singing and playing the kora has been handed down through the generations in Maher’s family for over 700 years. The album’s title song ‘Kora Fo’ revolves around this bond between all those who has passed their knowledge down during the centuries.

“This is a way to make the kora as an instrument more famous and also to pay homage to all the long lines of griotes (West African kora-playing troubadours) through history who has shaped me and my identity as an artist.”

..says Maher and continues..

“‘Kora Fo’ is a way for me to leave a fingerprint and tell the world ‘this is me’. I really wanted to create an album where it was just me and the kora”

Maher believes that the album is well suited for the modern society and people surrounded by a constant stream of information. The kora music can be a way to give balance and harmony to a overworked brain. Maher also hopes ‘Kora Fo’ can help introduce the kora and its distinct sound to a wider audience. His own playing has also evolved through creating the album and reached a new level.

“All my playing styles are very rhythmic but each is unique in its own way and these songs with only singing, kora and the finger drum creates a very special sound. I like it when the kora and the voice is given plenty of space – it enables a new style and a different tempo. *Kora Fo’ is the Mandinka equivalent of a singer-songwriter record”

Kora Fo’ was officially released in April in Scandinavia in conjunction with Maher Cissoko opening for Rokia Traoré in Stockholm. In June Kora Fo will be released worldwide.