«Guineans celebrated the dawn of a new era in 1958, waking up to their newly won independence. But once the celebrations had died down, President Sékou Touré was faced with a harsh reality. After years of French cultural influence, the former colony had totally lost touch with its musical heritage and its own cultural roots. When President Touré wished to organise a grand musical gala in Guinea, he had to call in ET Mensah, the Ghanean king of high-life, because no local group had ever developed a repertoire based on traditional home-grown songs and rhythms.
In a bid to turn this disastrous situation around, President Touré instituted a government initiative based on reviving authentic Guinean culture and creating a popular style of Guinean music by modernising tradition. President Touré saw in this cultural initiative a vital means of forging an all-important sense of national pride amongst his compatriots.
National orchestras were set up in Guinea and members automatically acquired the status of civil servants. Meanwhile, each individual region of Guinea organised its own federal orchestra. The orchestras were encouraged to compete on a regular basis, coming together at a national contest which involved pre-selection auditions across the country before a grand final in Conakry.
Meanwhile, the state-owned label Syliphone played a supportive role in this elaborate national structure. Syliphone was responsible for releasing 33rpm and 45rpm recordings by the best groups in the land. These were made in the studio of the national radio station which dipped into these precious music archives to fill its programmes, Western sounds having been banned from the airwaves.» (More at RFIMusique)
Radio Africa’s Complete Illustrated Syliphone Discography here.
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