At age 5, Salifou Kone’s grandfather gave him the nickname “Malima,” meaning “the way it is.” Twenty three years later, the nickname has taken on new meaning as the West African-born musician writes songs that tell stories of orphans, peace, love, humanity, daily life, and experiences in his homeland. “I write about what I see,” he explains.
He and his six-piece band, Les Harmonies—based in Santa Cruz—are currently raising funds via Kickstarter, in order to record their first album, a soothing collection of acoustic reggae songs that showcase Kone’s mastery over Western instruments like the guitar, knowledge he gained while studying music in Paris, and the West African music tradition. He sings in five languages—Bwamu, Bamana/Jula, Moore, French, and English—but he trusts that his music has the power to transcend language barriers. “I try to combine them all because music is a universal language,” he explains, “because personally, as a musician, when I was young I didn’t understand. I was crazy about Bob Marley and listened to him all day as a child not knowing what he was saying. Still everything gets across.” “Dambe,” a particularly poignant track off his forthcoming album, which can be heard on his website, describes a mother in tears, who is worried about a better future for her children. To Kone, the opportunity to record an album after spending his entire life making music will be a dream come true. He still makes frequent trips to his hometown of Ouagadougou—capital of the West African country Burkina Faso, which boasts 17 million people speaking 68 languages—to perform in the streets and spread his message of global unity. “Everyone deserves love,” he says. “You and I have parents who raised us and gave us love and these children don’t, but someone has to do it for them. I think people try and step away from that responsibility.”
INFO: For details visit malimakone.com. To fund his first album, visit kickstarter.com/projects/malimakone/malima-kone-les-harmonies-debut-album.