The singer and multi-instrumentalist Nils Kercher draws his inspiration from the traditions of West Africa and from the introspective, atmosphere of Nordic vastness.
His grandparents played Europen folk music. They used to sing and improvise on their violins together. Nils inherited his grandfather´s violin and still plays it today.
Learning classical violin was a good training for his ears and overall musical feeling. He was having lessons for ten years, played in orchestras and sang in choirs, but from the example of his grandparents, he carried a longing for another way of sharing music.
He found more of it as he played the drum kit in rock and funk bands. When he discoverd West African music at the age of sixteen, he knew that he was in contact with a feeling, a source, that he had been looking for.
He learned to play the Djembe and he was soon giving drumming lessons himself. This opened the doors to a whole new world of sound. The next step was obvious: to go to Africa and immerse himself in the music. So as soon as he’d finished school, he set off on his first trip to Guinea.
Studying with various leading African musicians at the Guinea National Ballet gave him an opportunity to delve into the Guinean music tradition and grasp its mentality. Kercher returned to Guinea and its neighboring countries Mali, The Gambia and Senegal seven times, eventually plucking up the courage to learn to play the awe-inspiring kora, a twenty-one stringed lute-bridge harp. He studied with renowned kora masters such as Fodé Kalissa, who passed his kora on to him prior to his death, Ba Cissoko and at the National Institute of Arts in Bamako with Djelemady Sissoko, the brother of the internationally known kora player Ballaké Sissoko.
Especially while spending time in remote villages, he encountered a natural groove and an extraordinary ability to share the musical flow.
From this philosophy he began to develop a tonal language of his own that incorporated elements of West African music. This eventually culminated in his first album, Ancient Intimations, released in 2009. It was here that Kercher spread out his treasury of “poetic world music” for the first time.
It is the world of a chamber ensemble that tells tales of West Africa while constantly seeking out new paths of its own and also carries the atmosphere and vastness of the North. The album reached the World Music Charts Europe in 2009.
After the album came a whole series of concerts, accompanied by a live CD, prompting rave reviews from media as diverse as the public broadcasters Deutschlandradio Kultur and Hessischer Rundfunk and magazines like drums & percussion and Rocktimes.
In 2013 Nils Kercher started a new cooperation with ngoni virtuoso and guitar player Oumar Barou Kouyaté (Mali), a long-term member of the ngoni band led by his world-famous uncle Bassekou Kouyaté.
In 2015 Nils was invited by the Senegalese record label „Blue Saxo“ to be on tour in Senegal as special guest with the singer Mariama Kouyaté and her band.
For his album SUKU (2016) Nils Kercher invited her to collaborate on two songs and to produce the music video Unbroken Spell for the release of his new album, which was filmed in the House of Slaves on Goreé Island, Senegal.
Nils Kercher & Band were selected for the annual catalog of “Musikkulturen” 2017/18 of the cultural ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia / Germany.