Sayon Camara is an extremely talented djembefola with an intimate knowledge of the music for all the drums of the Malinke culture and an impeccable sense of time. Whether experiencing Sayon as a teacher or performer in classes, at workshops, celebrations, schools or other events, Sayon will take you places in drumming and traditional Guinean music that you didn’t know were possible and will do so with contagious joy. He is comfortable teaching and performing in any setting, for adults and children (whom he is wonderful with!) alike. He has been instructing workshops and classes in Guinea for fifteen years as well as being sought after for many celebratory occasions, both private and public. He has experience working with people from all walks of life, from many different countries.
In addition to his first CD, Sayon Barana, and second CD, Nyenema, Sayon is currently working on a third one. Prior to producing his own CDs, Sayon played on five of Famoudou Konate’s CDs, world renowned djemebefola from Guinea.
Sayon was born in the village of Kouya Sidia in the Sankaran region of central Guinea. His parents instilled in him the desire to walk a straight path in life lined with honesty, compassion and wisdom, while growing up with his older siblings in the wonderful commune of Guinean village society. As a young boy he hunted and played with his friends.
When Sayon was seven his father, an accomplished djembefola, gifted him a with djembe, which he constructed for Sayon himself. Sayon’s hands have not left the djembe since. After drumming in the village for over thirty years and serving as Kouya Sidia’s djembefola, while cultivating rice and working for a brief period in the diamond mines, Sayon left his village as a master, solidly grounded in the Malinke musical tradition, for Guinea’s capitol, Conakry. It was in Conakry that his older brother introduced him to the world’s foremost djembe player, Famoudou Konate. When Mr Konate heard Sayon play he was amazed by the pure sound Sayon produced on the djembe and the deep respect for tradition he conveyed.
For more than a decade following, Sayon studied intensively with Famoudou Konate, playing djembe and dounouns for him, teaching people from all over the world at his workshops and playing on several of his CDs. Sayon was a member of the traditional ensemble led by Mr Konate in Conakry, performing as first soloist and accompanist at festivals and concerts. Sayon continues to maintain a close relationship with Famoudou Konate today.
As a result of working with Mr. Konate, in 2002, Sayon was invited to travel to Chicago IL, as a guest artist of the Chicago Djembe Project with colleague Nansady Keita. Eventually Sayon began producing his own CDs and leading his own dynamic workshops in Guinea and Japan, where he has toured seven times. He remains a sought after musician in his homeland, for occasions such as marriages, naming ceremonies, and other festivals both traditional and contemporary, with his ensemble of drummers, singers and dancers.
Sayon is an unusually gifted teacher with a rare sensitivity to the student’s perspective. You will find Sayon’s teaching and performance of the traditional musical rhythms for the djembe and dounoun, and the songs and stories of the Malinke people to be passionately and respectfully infused with the gentle, electrifying warmth of pure joy, and patiently delivered with precise crystalline clarity and a relentlessly impeccable sense of time.
Currently, Sayon resides in the United States where he conducts classes for students of all ages and walks of life, as well as workshops and performances throughout the US, in Canada, Japan and the world, giving us all direct access to the knowledge he stewards, as a brilliant Guinean musician who is dedicated to lovingly sharing the rich music of his native culture with others.
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