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After losing the use of his legs at age 14, SIDIKI was sent away by his family to live in his grandfather’s village deep in the forest. One night, a voice came to him and told him to be happy. He replied: “How can I be happy when all has been taken from me: my family, my friends, my future?” The voice told him to sing and dance and take care of himself. Inspired by his vision, he taught himself to walk on his hands and eventually to dance on his hands. Having found a way of moving that was true to his culture’s traditional rhythms and steps, he reconstructed the ritual steps and danced at his coming-of-age ceremony, thereby reconnecting with his community and his culture in a profound way. Through his singing, dancing, musicianship and choreography he delights, entertains, and above all enlightens people the world over as to the potential of living life to the fullest despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
Produced by Rick DePofi at NY Noise and featuring some of the finest West African musicians in the States as well as top NYC session players, his debut Innova CD, SIDIKI, is a chronicle of his life’s journey.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
Sidiki Conde's music is as compelling as his life story. Born in Guinea West Africa, at the age of 14, he lost the use of his legs as the result of polio. Yet in spite of obstacles (physical, cultural, and others) he was not deterred from becoming an electrifying musician, dancer, and founder of Message de Espoir (The Message of Hope), an orchestra of artists with disabilities he recruited from city streets. This self-titled release is a testament to the musician's resilience, persistence, and uplifting presence. The recording intrinsically carries the voice of Conde's experiences and his homeland, performed by a group of exquisite musicians who emphatically answer the call of dance and song. Pulsating drums of the doun doun and djembe, resonating strings of the guitar and kora, melodies of the flute and balafon and other instruments, together creating an atmosphere of celebration. If the recording's music is the heartbeat, then the songs (lyrics sung in Guinean and translated to English in the liners) are its life-blood. "N'na" dedicated to Conde's mother who took care of him when he first became disabled, "Dalina," a traditional song to remind people to never forget their homeland, or "Ibrahimi Conde," a warm dedication to Conde's son (1994-2002) sung in Arabic and Malinke languages. Stand out selections include "Damayele" and "Aboubacar Sidiki" where the player's instruments hypnotically intertwine with the call/response of the singers, or "Kourri"'s serenity with its easy guitar lines, threading Conde's heartfelt singing. This is music with global appeal, similar to the popular sounds of sister West African, Angelique Kidjo. There's much to enjoy here; a release that embodies Conde's spirit—one that is alive, dancing and singing.
by Mark F. Turner