N’famady Kouyaté is Malinké in origin, from a family that hails from the region of Siguiri in Guinea (West Africa). Descended from a long line of griots (djeli), N’famady is a master balafonist (balafola), singer, percussionist, multi-instrumentalist, and the founder member and leader of Les Héritiers du Mandingue (a traditional Mandingue-modern fusion group) – now reborn in Wales as The Successors of the Mandingue.
Born into a griot/djeli family; a West African bardic tradition where the Djeli/griots have a guardianship responsibility for preserving traditional Mandingue culture through the sharing of ancient rhythms, songs, stories, and music. As an infant he was taught to play balafon (a traditional West African natural wooden xylophone), the preferred instrument of both his parents. N’famady then went on to djembe and drumming in the traditional ballet groups of Conakry, the capital of Guinea.
In later years he joined various theatre and orchestral groups for festival tours across Africa. The balafon is sacred in Guinean culture and is traditionally played during ceremonial celebrations, carnivals, and community festivals. Legend tells that the first balafon was discovered by the King of Susu, Soumaoro Kanté, and it was given into the guardianship of the djeli Bala Fassèké Kouyaté. The Kouyatés have therefore been a significant family of djeli for generations. N’famady is a direct descendant, and one of the stars of the succession of the Mandingue.