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Balimaya translates as ‘brotherhood’ in the Maninka language of West Africa. Underpinned by a shared sense of kinship and culture, the Balimaya Project imbues the folklore and history of Mandé culture, along with the energy of London, into the fabric of its music.

Founded by percussionist and virtuoso djembe player Yahael Camara Onono, the superband creates a soul-stirring style that is grounded in a very personal exploration of heritage and identity. Their debut album, Wolo So, celebrated the sheer vigour of the band, centring its collective polyrhythms and blazing frontline horns. Their acclaimed second album, When The Dust Settles, brought bandleader Camara Onono’s lived experience of grief and fatherhood to the fore.

Traditional West African instruments make up their collective, transformative sound, including the balafon (with similarities to the xylophone) and the kora (a long-necked harp lute). In the words of the Arts Desk, this is ‘music that takes the body by storm and fills it with energy and healing power’.

Through mentorship and performance opportunities, we are creating a supportive environment for emerging talent to become the next generation of arts leaders – both on and off the stage. This year, you can see rising stars from our international callout performing in concerts at The Queen’s Hall.

Presented by Edinburgh International Festival

Balimaya Project

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