Master drummer and teacher from Guinea, West Africa
M'BEMBA BANGOURA'S STORY
Born in Guinea, West Africa, M'Bemba Bangoura began drumming at a very young age. He learned the traditional music and dance styles of his village early in his life, and it has remained the primary focus of his life for over 50 years. By the age of fourteen, he had displayed such a high level of skill and artistry that he was invited to join the nation’s capital city ballet, The Ballet of Conakry. The ballet was a formal training ground for him where he became lead drummer and was recognized as a rising star in the city’s drumming community. After seven years of playing with the city ballet, M’Bemba had become a master drummer and was invited to play for Ballet Djoliba, the most widely recognized and respected ballet in the country at that time. There he worked side by side with other master drummers, most notably longtime friend Mamady Keita, with whom he created all of the ballet’s musical arrangements. It was with this troupe that he first traveled to the United States.
After four European tours and two tours throughout the US with Ballet Djoliba, M’Bemba decided to pursue a solo career. In 1988, he established his first dance company in Amsterdam, called Africa Soli. He soon had a devoted following of young drummers and dancers eager to learn of the traditions that he carried with him. Two years later he moved to the US, traveling extensively, but ultimately settling in New York City. Here he helped to found the Fareta School of Drum and Dance, one of the most prominent drum and dance centers in New York at that time. In 1992, he co-founded the Les Ballet Bagata, with master dancer Youssouf Koumbassa.
M’Bemba Bangoura has travelled throughout the world as a performer and teacher of West African drum and dance, and is revered worldwide for his high level of mastery. He has recorded three albums: Wali, Fanji and Wofabe, and has appeared on many other albums as a guest artist. He is featured on Wula’s Wamato “Everybody Look!” Instructional DVDs.
M'Bemba leads annual music, dance and culture trips to Guinea. He is the Artistic Director of Wula Drum and is a highlighted instructor and performer at the annual Wula Drum and Dance Retreat. He teaches weekly drumming and doundoun dance classes in New York's Capital Region: Albany, Troy and Saratoga Springs.