Balla Tounkara was born in Mali, West Africa into one of the most prestigious griot families in that country. Griots, the musicians, oral historians, storytellers, and peacemakers, date back to ancient times and although their roles have changed the tradition lives on. Balla began playing the kora (a 21-stringed instrument) as a child. Balla became a master kora player and vocalist and then became interested in the possibilities of the kora beyond traditional Mande music. So, he left Mali in 1996 and settled in United States where he soon began to fuse traditional Mande music with all styles of music from jazz to funk to rock to hip hop and R & B to Latin to reggae.
Balla eventually formed his own group, Groupe Spirit and although the members have changed throughout the years, the mission has remained the same: fusing traditional Mande music with Western music creating high energy, intelligent music.
They perform a spicy, eclectic blend of African, Latin, Funk, and Blues that can electrify any audience.