Lionel Loueke (born 27 April 1973) is a guitarist and vocalist born in the west African country of Benin. He moved to Ivory Coast in 1990 to study at the National Institute of Art. He attended the American School of Modern Music in Paris, France from 1994-1998. In 1999, Loueke was awarded a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, where he earned a degree in Jazz Performance in 2000.
Lionel Loueke grew up in what he has described as a family of poor intellectuals in the west African country of Benin. He began playing percussion instruments around the age of 9, but was influenced by an older brother who played guitar, which he began playing himself in his late teens. It took Loueke a year to earn the $50 he needed to buy his first guitar. However, he could not afford to replace the strings, which had to be special-ordered from Nigeria. Instead, he soaked his strings in vinegar to keep them clean. When the strings broke, he had to replace them with bicycle brake cables...
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