Aly Camara was born in Guinea, West Africa. Guinea is known for their energetic, polyrhythmic traditional drum and dance, and has maintained much of their indigenous cultural traditions.. Growing up in the capital city of Conakry, Aly was exposed to rhythms from the many different ethnic groups that join together there, not just his native Susu group, which is based there in the coastal region of Guinea. Living near the heart of the city, Aly was also very close to the rehearsal and performance venues of the national drum and dance troups, as well as to many celebrations by all the different ethnic groups – Susu, Malinke, Toma, Djalonka, Pular, Kissi, and more. Aly was drawn to drumming and started his own little group, Sehwe, at age 5, and people would actually come to his mother to hire his group to play for events! By the time he was 10, Aly was a member of a local troupe called Soleil d’Afrique, and even touring in West Africa to countries like Sierra Leone.
In his early teens, Aly became a drummer for a group called Kankoure Bamba and then became lead drummer for another troupe, or ‘ballet’ called Ballet Fareta de Guinea. Aly also was a member of an ensemble, Fatala. The difference between a ballet and an ensemble or orchestra is that a ballet is a group that combines traditional rhythms and dance to tell a story, whereas an ensemble or orchestra is music and singing only, and if it includes dancers it will be purely to augment the music.
In his early twenties, Aly was offered an opportunity to join the national ensemble, Percussions de Guinee, but at the same time he was recruited by the renowned choreographer of Les Ballets Africans, Mohammed Kemoko Sano. Sano had created an new group of young artists called Les Merveilles de Guinee (or sometimes Les Merveilles d’Afrique), and he wanted Aly as his newest lead drummer. Aly became the lead drummer for Merveilles, and shortly thereafter he was invited by Sano to audition for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Aly was then selected as the lead drummer for a group of five artists that went from Guinea to perform at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
When he completed his tenure at Animal Kingdom, Aly moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he knew some other Guinean drummers. He has made Atlanta his base of operations ever since, creating an African drum and dance troupe called SaMato, providing artistic direction for Sehwe Village, and teaching and performing at countless camps, schools, weddings, festivals, corporate events and more.
Aly plays a number of percussion instruments. He is most outstanding on the djembe, dunduns and krin (a wooden log drum). He also is excellent with the gongoma, a gourd instrument with saw blades that you strum similar to a kalimba, the bolon, another gourd instrument similar to a rustic kora, a boate, which is a small drum that you wear around your waist and play with a stick while playing a bell with your other hand, and several other little known percussion instruments that are indigenous to Guinea. Aly has a beautiful voice and sings traditional rhythms from a variety of West African ethnic groups. One of Aly’s strongest skills is creating arrangements and productions – he can arrange percussion groups and also works to bring drum and dance performances together, because like all good African drummers, he knows all the types of dance steps that go along with each rhythm.
Aly’s strongest influences have been Yamoussa “Yahdi” Camara, Aboubacar “Fatou Abou” Camara, and Mohamed Kemoko Sano.