Music of West Africa Tours the Libraries


The traditional home of the Mande people is West Africa.  The temporary home of the Manding Jata Trio March 13-18 is your Metropolitan Library System.

The Trio is made up of musicians from the “jali” class of musical historians.  Their music is authentic and full of vibrancy.  “It’s an extraordinary sound,” said MLS Director of Outreach Services Dana Morrow, “fascinating and exciting.”

Djeli Balla Kouyate plays the balafon, a West African relative of the xylophone. It’s a wooden keyed percussion instrument that is played by striking the tuned keys with two wooden sticks.

Djeli Amadou Kouyate plays the kora, which is made from a large calabash that is halved and covered by cow hide. It has a notched bridge, like a lute, and can sound like a harp or even a flamenco guitar.

The final member of the trio is vocalist Djeli Muso Ajaratou, whose voice was described by the “New York Times” as “glinting, with a tough earth mother delivery.”

“The performances will feature classic ’jailya’ repertoire,” Morrow said, “with pristine kora selections and incendiary drum pieces uniquely arranged with soaring female vocal.  This is like nothing we’ve ever brought to the libraries before. It’s a unique cultural experience for everyone.”

The Manding Jata Trio will perform at MLS libraries between March 13 and March 18, 2011. All performances are free and open to the public, but space is limited so plan to arrive a little early.

For more information call 405-606- 3833.

For more information about this or any Metropolitan Library System program, visit the MLS website,

The Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County includes 12 libraries and five extension libraries. Libraries include Belle Isle, Capitol Hill, Ralph Ellison, Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library and Southern Oaks in Oklahoma City, as well as Bethany, Choctaw, Del City, Edmond, Midwest City, Village and Warr Acres. Extensions are located in the communities of Harrah, Jones, Luther and Nicoma Park and include Wright Library in Oklahoma City. You can also reach us at