Griots and Griottes
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Griots and Griottes

Masters of Words and Music
Thomas A. Hale
Distribution: World
Publication date: 7/6/2007
Format: paper 432 pages, 20 b&w photos, 7 maps
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-21961-9
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Griots, a uniquely African profession, fulfill a variety of roles as genealogists, historians, spokespersons, diplomats, musicians, teachers, praise singers, and advisors. Telling the story of these remarkable wordsmiths and performers, Thomas A. Hale addresses the nature of their verbal and musical art, the role of female griots, or griottes, how griots and griottes fit into their societies, and what their future might be in Africa and the rest of the world.

Author Bio

Thomas A. Hale is Liberal Arts Professor of African, French, and Comparative Literature at The Pennsylvania State University. He is editor of The Epic of Askia Mohammed (IUP, 1996) and co-editor (with John William Johnson and Stephen Belcher) of Oral Epics from Africa (IUP, 1997).


"Hale's magnum opus is an invaluable reference for scholars in religious studies, history, music, anthropology, linguistics, and literature." —Religious Studies Review

"[Puts] the study of West African oral tradition on a higher level." —International Journal of African Historical Studies

"[An] encyclopedic introduction to and overview of this ubiquitous and important West African figure . . . . [A] valuable addition to the literature on both African societies and the African Diaspora." —Choice

"[Reveals] griots to be much more complex and multifaceted social agents than previously understood." —African Arts

"Thomas A. Hale's clearly written, informative work is a comprehensive historical and contemporary account of the griot phenomenon, which originated in West Africa. ...It is, in its entirety, of benefit to a variety of researchers from fields as diverse as history, music, anthropology and sociology, linguistics and literature." —Karen Ferreira-Meyers, University of Swaziland, African Studies Quarterly E-Jrnl , Vol. 11.2-3 Spring 2010

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Table of Contents

1. A Job Description for Griots
2. The Origin of Griots
3. The Verbal Art of Griots
4. Music across the Griot World
5. The Making of a Griot
6. Would You Want Your Daughter to Marry One?
7. Griottes: Unrecognized Female Voices
8. From the Courtyards of the Nobility to a Global Audience
9. The Value of Words
10. New Millennium Griots
Selected Bibliography
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