Like many children born into jali families, Kouyate began singing at a young age, joining the Malian National Ensemble and traveling to the 1967 Pan-African Music Festival with them. She became one of Mali's most popular singers, traveling all over the country and performing traditional jali classics and praise songs. In 1984, a wealthy patron helped pay for a recording session in Paris, which resulted in her biggest hit, "Hommage a Baba Cissoko." In 1988, she switched from traditional instruments to contemporary ones while keeping her familiar style.
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