Juldeh Camara

Tagged with: Juldeh Camara Justin Adams Gambia riti ritti nyanyeru griot zubop World Music Worldmusic.co.uk

Juldeh Camara, Gambian griot and acknowledged master of the one-string fiddle (aka nyanyeru, ritti or riti), is a solo artist, but is often more know for his collaborations with the following artists: Ifang Bondi, Daykil Chosan Group, Tata Dindin Jobarteh Group, Afro Manding, Zubop, ZubopGambia, Seckou Keita Quartet, Batanai Marimba, Boka Halat and Tunde Jegede's African Classical Ensemble.  He is most often associated with guitarist Justin Adams these days (alongside Salah Dawson Miller on percussion).

"Born in 1966 in Basse, Gambia, West Africa, Juldeh Camara is a Gambian griot and master musician.  His blind father received the gift of music from forest spirits who took the use of his eyes in return. Playing the Ritti, a one- stringed fiddle, he participated as a griot in traditional Fula society.

Camara has been recognised as the leading ritti player in the world. Camara has played with The Blind Boys of Alabama, Batani Marimba and kora player Seckou Keita. More recently he has establised a successful partnership with Justin Adams, releasing their collaborative album "Soul Science" and "Tell No Lies" in May 2009.

Juldeh has the drive and effortless flow of a great Bluesman. While his instrument brings to mind Delta players like Big Joe Williams, as well as Ali Farka Touré, there is a lilt in his playing that hints at the ancient links between North Africa and the Celtic World. He describes magical shapes on his ritti; one minute it's Blues harp, the next a Celtic fiddle, then a Saharan herdsman's flute. It is hard to believe all this emotion, range and flexibility comes from just one string." (Realworld)

Juldeh has also released an album - as part of the band JuJu, with Justin Adams - called "In Trance" on Realworld in 2011.

He has also recorded an album in 2011 called "Traders" with Scottish fiddler and nyckelharpa player Griselda Sanderson who perform together as the duo Julaba Kunda.

Juldeh, Justin and the rest of JuJu will be forming the basis of Robert Plant's new band The Sensational Space Shifters from Summer 2012.

The riti or nyanyeru is a one-string violin, originating from the Fulani people. The Fulani are originally a nomadic people and you can find various Fulani people all over the Sahel, from East to West. In Wolof the violin is called the riti, and in Fula the nyanyeru.

Juldeh Camara is undoubtedly one of the leading riti players of West Africa, and one of the most prominent Fula musicians. A fine singer and a prolific composer, Juldeh's work has been very wide-ranging, from traditional Fula pieces through work with Ifang Bondi (for the past 30 years one of West Africa's leading electric bands) - all over Europe and in the USA - to recording with Norwegian guitarist Knut Reiersrud and British r'n'b artist Dee Ellington. His recording debut in 1990 was for Bill Laswell's Axiom label, produced by Laswell and Foday Musa Suso - one of the tracks was subsequently sampled by leading Senegalese rap artists Positive Black Soul.

"The djinni took his eyes and gave him the violin, the gift to play on it and the gift to see what other people cannot see." This is Juldeh's story about how his father became a musician. Juldeh's grandfather was a hunter, and he wanted his son Serif to become a great hunter as himself, but when Serif was 15 years old he disappeared in the forest. Everyone thought he was dead, killed by the hyenas. One year later his father still went every day to the forest to look for his son. Suddenly he could hear a sound from a tree. He came closer and he saw his son sitting in the tree playing a golden violin. He understood that Serif was hypnotised by the djinni and after many hours he managed to drive the djinni away, but at the same time the violin was gone. Serif followed his father home, but every day he went back to the forest to learn more from the djinni. When the time came, and Serif had become a fully trained musician and Marabou, the djinni took his eyesight in return. Juldeh grew up in Sariyalla in Casamance, West Africa, with his blind jali-father as his teacher. When one listens carefully one can hear the sound of the djinni in Juldeh's music.

Juldeh is recognised as one of the finest riti/nyanyeru players in West Africa. His tours to Europe include three trips to Norway, touring with guitarist Knut Reiersrud. He has recorded with Knut, as well as musicians from other continents, including the Five Blind Boys of Alabama. In the UK he has recorded with Zubop (Hiptodisiac, 1997/8), and more recently with Batanai Marimba on Moto Moto (2000) and Mudzimu Mudzimu (2002). His tours in the UK include those with Afro Manding Sound, in 1996 and 1997, and with Ifang Bondi in 1998, 2000 and 2001. He has recorded with Ifang Bondi on their 1998 CD Gigi Gis.

Since 1996 he has worked as a music teacher for ECCO, a Gambian NGO arranging courses for students of music from universities and academies in Europe (including, in recent years, students from London's Guildhall School of Music). The project is supported by the Norwegian Agency for Development - NORAD. The courses are being arranged in traditional music villages all over The Gambia.

In early 2003, Juldeh toured in England with the members of Zubop and djembe player Njega, as ZubopGambia, a tour supported by the Arts Council of England. Throughout the summer of 2003 he worked at The National Theatre, London, playing music for the acclaimed play 'Elmina's Kitchen' by Kwame Kwei-Armah. The play was later adapted for TV and screened on BBC4, toured in the UK and transferred to the West End - all with Juldehs involvement. In 2004, he toured in England with kora player Seckou Keita in an acoustic quartet, appeared on BBC World Service 'Guy Barker's World Café' and continued to work with ZubopGambia, who released a live CD recorded on the 2003 tour. Since then he has been working with Boka Halat, bringing together English folk dance and musics of the world - this group includes his countryman the percussionist Musa Mboob, with whom Juldeh has also worked on a new project, Joko (www.jokoband.com).

In early 2007, Juldeh started working with the excellent British guitarist and producer Justin Adams, best known for his work with Robert Plant in recent years, and in the '90s with Jah Wobble's Invaders of The Heart, also for his album Desert Road and his occasional live band The Wayward Sheikhs, featuring Salah Dawson Miller on percussions, Andy Cox on guitar (formerly of The Beat), Femi Akinde on bass and Siaye Akinde on drumkit.

Juldeh had been enjoying Justin's work for some time - after a friend sent him a cassette containing some tracks from Justin's CD Desert Road, he would sit and play along with it at his compound in Bakau, entertaining the children and passers by. He's very happy to be playing with Justin in real life, at last! In February 2007, Justin, Juldeh and Salah played at the prestigious Barbican concert hall in London, playing as support for Tinariwen, the renowned Touareg group whose latest CD Aman Iman was produced by Justin. Since then, Justin, Juldeh and Salah have played all over the UK and in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Mexico, touring with Tinariwen around the UK in May 2008." (Taken from Juldeh's Myspace site)

Juldeh Camara Discography

1990 Ancient Heart - Mandinka & Fula Music of the Gambia - Various artists -Axiom CD (produced by Foday Musa Suso and Bill Laswell)

1993 Tramp - Knut Reiersrud - (Kirkelig Kulturverstedet FXCD ???) Norwegian CD featuring Juldeh with other Gambian musicians, plus The Blind Boys of Alabama. Tramp was received with critical accolades and went on to sell 23.000 copies in Norway. Reiersrud is a uniquely talented musician, a guitarist and composer with knowledge of many folk traditions, and a fine blues player.

1995 Klapp - Knut Reiersrud - (Kirkelig Kulturverstedet FXCD 151) Norwegian CD featuring Juldeh with other Gambian musicians on some tracks.

1997 Hiptodisiac - Zubop - 2 tracks - UK 33 Records CD

1997 Dee Ellington - Vibe Me (UK r'n'b single -RCA)

1997 New-York Paris Dakar - Positive Black Soul - 1 track (cassette vol 1 - also released on CD)

1998 Gis Gis - Ifang Bondi - MW Records CD - Netherlands

1999 Millenium Drum Salute - Various Artists - Yellowgate CD - Serrekunda, The Gambia

1999 Kairo Sounds of the Gambia - Various Artists - Arch CD - Gambia

2000 Moto Moto - Batanai Marimba - Koni CD UK

2002 Mudzimu Mudzimu - Batanai Marimba - Koni CD UK

2003 Madirisa - Daykil Chosan Group - ECCO (ECCO The Gambia, PO Box 4666, Bakau, The Gambia, West Africa. www.ecco.gm guro@eccointernational.org) Daykil Chosan Group consists of ECCO's regular tutors, who teach groups of mainly Scandinavian undergraduate music students - recently joined by some from the London Guildhall School of Music - in The Gambia. The recording was recorded at Yellowgate Studios, Serekunda and produced by bassist/guitarist/keyboardist extraordinaire Kebba Taylor.

2004 ZubopGambia Live (Recorded at Ronnie Scotts, London, Settle and Ipswich, 2003) UK 33 Records CD

2004 The Drummer - Boka Halat - TAPS UK.

2006 Afro-Mandinka Soul - Seckou Keita Quartet - Arc EUCD2028.

2007 Soul Science - Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara - Wayward 704

2008 Kanaké - Tata Dindin Jobarteh - abuko EARTH STATION SAM 9016

2009 Tell No Lies - Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara - Real World CDRW170

2010 The Trance Sessions - Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara - Real World EP

2011 In Trance - JuJu - Real World

2011 Traders - Julaba Kunda

Events involving this Artist

Reviews of this Artist

Albums by this Artist