This exciting, high-energy percussion and dance ensemble from Guinea, West Africa, is Melbourne’s newest African band. Muhanamwé, meaning "Culture", was founded in 2007 by Guinean master drummer Aliou Sylla, with the vision of sharing the rich Guinean culture with the Australian people. Bringing together powerful rhythms, vocal harmonies and stunning moves, Muhanamwé brings to life the colourful and vibrant culture of Guinea, and a musical tradition that can be traced right back to the ancient Mandinké Empire of West Africa. Directed by Aliou Sylla, the ensemble also features Guinean percussionist Mohamed Camara on djembe and vocals, percussionist Anna Camara on doun douns, balafon and backing vocals, and Gambian artist Bobo Ousmane Diallo as lead dancer and backing vocalist. With full traditional costumes and infectious rhythms and moves, Muhanamwé is a visually captivating African experience.
Muhanamwé have recently completed a recording for the 2008 VISIBLE project sponsored by Multicultural Arts Victoria. Recent performances include the 2008 Black Harmony Gathering at the Fairfield Amphitheatre, Beats ‘n’ Blues Festival in NSW, Emerge Festival at the Fitzroy Town Hall and the VISIBLE concert at Hamer Hall, as well as various private functions and corporate events.
ALIOU SYLLA: Born in Guinea Conakry in 1971, master drummer Aliou Sylla has been playing djembe since 1980 when Ton Ton Soriba Sylla, of the Guinean djembe percussion group Hamana Djara, encouraged Aliou to become a professional djembe player. In 1988, whilst Aliou was playing with the group he formed, Les Visages de Guinea, he was seen by the late, great musician, Lamine Lopez Soumah, after which he invited Aliou to work with him as a senior member of Les Percussions de Guinee. Other influences include the master doun doun artist Lance Kante and sangban and djembe artist Koumbana Konde. For the past 15 years Aliou has taught djembe to international students from Japan, Germany, America, France, Mexico, Italy and Australia in Guinea Conakry. He is currently teaching traditional Guinean percussion and culture at Footscray Primary School. Aliou has performed extensively around Australia for the past three years at cultural festivals and events including the Commonwealth Games 2006, several African events at the Victorian Arts Centre through MAV, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Globe to Globe, and the Brisbane and Darwin Festivals. He also toured with Jali Buba Kouyate as djembe percussionist in Jali's band Diya Looloo.
MOHAMED CAMARA: Mohamed Camara was born in Guinea Conakry, West Africa, into the Manding family. Mohamed has studied and performed with many of the world's great master drummers including Ton Ton Sylla, Aliou Sylla, and Fadouba Oularé. Mohamed is a former djembe soloist for Guinean drum and dance ensemble Ballet Destin, and internationally renowned ensemble Les Sorciers de Guinée, directed by Miriam Makeba's percussionist Papa Kouyaté. Since arriving in Australia in 2007, Mohamed has performed at various festivals, including Manna Gum and Renaissance, and has performed live on 3MBS and PBS FM radio, as well as Channel 7 and Channel 10 News. He has also conducted workshops at the Victorian College of the Arts, NMIT and the Victorian Arts Centre's African Village, and currently teaches African drumming at CERES and Clifton Hill Primary School.
ANNA CAMARA: Anna Camara developed a passion for Guinean percussion from the age of ten. This has led her to play a broad range of percussion instruments and styles, and she recently completed a Bachelor of Music Performance with Honours at the Victorian College of the Arts, specialising in Repertoire Percussion. She has performed as a soloist with the VCA Symphony Orchestra, and in a national masterclass for world famous percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Anna has travelled twice to Guinea to study traditional Guinean percussion, dance and song with members of Guinea's only female master drummers' ensemble, Les Amazones de Guinée, as well as the world famous Les Percussions de Guineé. Anna has taught percussion at MacRobertson Girls High and Melbourne Girls Grammar School, and currently teaches at the Victorian College of the Arts and Eltham High School.