Afrissippi was formed out of true musical serendipity when Fulani griot Guelel Kumba was introduced to Mississippi bluesman Eric Deaton. While jamming together, Guelel played Eric a traditional Fulani song, “Nduumandii,” which Eric recognized as practically identical to “Keep Your Hands Off That Girl” by Delta blues master Junior Kimbrough. The idea that an old African melody could have been preserved in the African-American population of the American South sparked the collaboration that soon became Afrissippi.
Guelel was born in the Futa Tooro region of Senegal, in west Africa, into the griot caste of the Fulani people. Griots serve a function similar to bards in ancient Britain, functioning more as oral historians than as entertainers. While studying sociology in Paris, Guelel began to explore and perform traditional Fulani music. He first came to Mississippi in 2002 and quickly began to integrate the rural Delta and Hill Country blues with the ancient musical traditions of the Fulani, forming Afrissippi in the process. Guelel generally plays an amplified acoustic guitar, singing mostly in the Fulani language.
A native of North Carolina, Eric moved to Mississippi at the age of 18 and studied at the feet of Hill Country blues master Junior Kimbrough as a member of his band. Moving out on his own after Kimbrough’s passing, Eric has played and toured with many of North Mississippi’s greatest blues artists, including Jimbo Mathus and Cedric Burnside. His work with Guelel in Afrissippi has allowed him to explore the deep African roots of the music he loves so much.
Kinney Kimbrough comes from Mississippi blues royalty. The son of Junior Kimbrough, Kinney was part of his father’s band and played on many of Junior’s records. Kinney was introduced to Guelel by Eric and his masterful drumming has been an integral part of Afrissippi’s sound ever since.
From Afrissippi Website