N’Famady Kouyaté has spoken to NME about how it feels to have won a coveted main stage Stage slot at Worthy Farm this June after winning Glastonbury‘s Emerging Talent Competition 2023.
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The Guinea-born, Cardiff-based artist emerged triumphant over eight other finalists and thousands of online entries. He won over a judging panel including Emily Eavis, DJ Huw Stephens and festival main stage bookers with his innovative fusion of traditional West African music with elements of jazz, indie and funk.
“I feel like I’m dreaming,” the winner told NME performing at Pilton’s Working Men’s Club on Saturday (April 29). “This is my first ever award in my musical career and I’m so glad it’s this as well. It’s a massive pleasure for the festival to offer me this opportunity. I’m feeling amazing.”
Kouyaté’s recent single ‘Balafô Douma’ references his own journey into music. “That song means a lot to me, the title is a reference to the instrument I play called the balafone which is sacred to West African culture,” he explained. “I grew up playing it, my mum and dad taught me how to play that instrument so there’s a lot of family heritage in the song. I’m glad I can carry that song everywhere I go, it’s part of my story and journey.”
Kouyaté added that the award, which includes a £5000 talent development prize from PRS Foundation, feels like a massive lift for his career as a whole.
“Sometimes you can hit challenges as an emerging artist and feel like giving up, but things like this give you back life,” he said. “I feel ready to work hard and keep going. I’ve been dreaming of days like this so I feel like it’s finally starting to be realised.”
He continued to say how he’ll take this momentum into the recording of his debut album. “I’ve been playing an active part on the Cardiff scene around various festivals but all focus now is on the album,” he said. “I’m just waiting to find a suitable producer who understands where I want to take my music. We just want to crack on for the next year and use this opportunity as a launchpad.”
Shortly after confirming that all of this year’s Emerging Talent Competition finalists will perform at Glastonbury next month, festival boss Emily Eavis told NME how it was a “really hard decision” picking just one winner.
“Many of the acts proved they were good enough to win and it was one of the most passionate debates we’ve had amongst the judges for a while,” she said.
“You could tell from N’Famady’s incredible performance, and the response to it, that he really is an emerging talent who deserves to be seen and heard by a much bigger audience. And we’re very grateful to be able to provide a platform for him to take things to the next level.”
“It’s been a lovely aspect of the competition over recent years that we’ve often been able to find a slot for all of the acts, and I think they’ll all fit in really well onto one of the stages across the festival. I’m really pleased that they’ll all be able to perform. They’ve earned it!”
“To be able to offer something really solid and give an opportunity to play at the finals and at the festival is really exciting. The new music side to the festival is something I’m really passionate about and I love opening that up to the new talent.”
This year’s Glastonbury Festival will take place from June 21-25. Elton John, Guns N’Roses and Arctic Monkeys will all be headlining the Pyramid Stage, while other acts on the line-up include Lana Del Rey, Lizzo, The War On Drugs, Chvrches, Lil Nas X, Christine And The Queens and Manic Street Preachers. Meanwhile, Yusuf/Cat Stevens has been booked for the coveted Legends Slot.