Jaliba Kuyateh has turned the kora music of Gambia into a very modern sound that he calls kora pop. Together with his group, the Kumareh Band, Kuyateh continues to unite the ancient and modern worlds with his exciting, uplifting performances.
The son of a kora player, Kuyateh began playing the 21-stringed instrument at the age of five. Although he showed talent on the instrument, he stopped playing after two years to focus on his schoolwork. He didn't pick it up again until 1977, when he was attending the Gambia Teachers Training College. Two years later, he joined with fellow students to form Jaliba & Group.
Although he studied other traditional instruments during a school break in 1986, music remained a hobby. While he continued to play with his band, Kuyateh began working with the ministry of education, youth, sports, and culture following his graduation in 1991. Kuyateh's love of music proved irresistible. Within a year, he voluntarily retired from his government job and turned his full-time attention to music. With only two members of his band agreeing to continue working with him, Kuyateh formed the group as the Kumarah Band. The group's success came quickly. In addition to touring France and Spain, Kuyateh & the Kumareh Band released their debut album, Radio Kantang, in 1993. The album sold more than 15,000 copies. Two albums, Dajukah and Tissoli, followed in 1994. Following the release of their fourth album, Hera Banku, in 1995, Kuyateh & the Kumareh Band toured the United States, recording a live album, Live in America. Gambia Third Day followed in 1996 and Njai Kunda in 1998. Fan Kanta, released in 1999, included the band's hit singles and new material.