Salia Koroma: “The Worthy’s End is the Musician”
The late American-born ethnomusicologist Jean Jenkins was in Sierra Leone in 1976 and recorded Salia Koroma in Kenema.
One thing we should note about this recording is that Salia was recorded in context, within a particular cultural and social frame of reference, in this case Salia performing his role as court singer and accordionist. So this wasn’t Salia Koroma putting out a commercial recording, and he wasn’t performing for someone on an intellectual investigation of foreign, non-western musical traditions.
The recording is the crowd favourite, the inescapable Mende Gendei, remarkable in this incarnation only by its consistency to most other versions. I say most other versions because Salia for the most part tended to avoid (as he has done here) the second ‘movement’ that chronicles chiefs who have passed on and the silence they have left behind them.