Multi talented Producer, Songwriter and percussionist, Yahael Camara Onono is a second-generation Londoner whose rich West African musical heritage, coupled with his musical experiences in the UK, inspired him to bridge the gap between the diaspora and West Africa. In 2019 he formed Balimaya Project. This group is built on the foundation of forging musical and cultural ties, from a place of integrity, authenticity and inspiration. Balimaya Project uses the repertoire and instrumentation of the Mande peoples of Senegal and Mali as the bridge to bring the folkloric West African music together with Jazz and the sounds of Black London, to create something unique and exciting. Yahael and majority of the band’s unique position as young UK-born men of African origin gives them a unique insight into what it truly takes to make an ensemble like this work and the results have spoken for themselves! Their debut album ‘Wolo So’ was released in July of 2021 and has had a huge impact on the UK music scene and beyond.
Balimaya Project have featured on prominent radio shows, playlists and editorials from London and Toronto to Tokyo and Brazil. ‘One of the most important releases this year’ said renowned tastemaker Giles Peterson whilst playing one of the band’s tracks on his BBC 6 show. The band has played mainstage at festivals across the UK, including We Out Here!, Brainchild Fest and End Of the Road to name a few. The highlight of 2021 was a sold-out headline show at the Barbican’s Milton Court, which received a 5-star review. Balimaya Project have collaborated with brands like Converse in social media campaigns. They were most recently featured with high-profile, London-based designer Labrum London as a focal point in their highly celebrated London Fashion Week Show. Since Wolo So’s release, Balimaya Project have been included in other high-profile reviews and have recently been nominated as one of the Albums of the year in the Africa and Middle East category by the prestigious Songlines Magazine and also cited as one of the top ten global music albums of the year by the Guardian. The evening standard also did a great piece on the band and its reviving of the big band aesthetic and how effective it’s been. The band have also just won the prestigious Songlines Magazine’Newcomer of the year’ award this year.
In 2023, Yahael has co-written and played on Amaarae’s new album, ‘Fountain Baby’ and he is also releasing the next Balimaya Project album, 'When The Dust Settles’ which releases on 21st July 2023.