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Mamadou Diabaté (born 1975)[1] is a Malian musician known for his work with the kora. He began playing quite early in his life, became known as a musician in the area of Mali in which he lived, and has since moved to the United States, recording several albums.

Mamadou Diabaté
Cover from Mamadou Diabate's album 'Courage'.jpg
Cover from Mamadou Diabate's album, "Heritage"
Background information
Birth nameMamadou Diabaté
Years active1990s–present

Life and careerEdit

Diabaté was born in Kita, Mali, a town relatively near to Mali's capital of Bamako, known for its artistic and cultural prominence within the Manding community of West Africa.[2] He was born into a family of griots, with his father, Djelimory n'fa Diabaté, also a kora musician and a member of the Instrumental Ensemble of Mali.[1][3] He began playing the kora, a 21-string harp at a very young age, performing at various public events in his country and was becoming somewhat of a regional celebrity by that time as well.[3]

In 1996, he went on to travel with a group of the Instrumental Ensemble of Mali, and eventually settled in the United States.[3][4][5] Since his move to the US, Diabaté has performed with several musicians from the country, including jazz players Randy Weston, Guy Davis, and Donald Byrd, as well as with a griot ensemble composed of musicians from Mali and the United States.[4][6]

His 2000 debut album Tunga mixed West African music with blues and jazz influences.[4] A review in CMJ New Music Report commented on Diabate's "faster, nimbler style of kora playing".[7] The album featured bassists Cheick Barry and Ira Coleman.[8]

In 2005, Diabaté was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Traditional World Music Album category for Behmanka, but lost to the collaboration between his cousin Toumani Diabate and Ali Farka Toure.[9][1][10] The album was described as a "dazzling duet for one" by The Washington Post,[11] while Philip Van Vleck, reviewing it for Billboard, described it as "a feat of remarkable virtuosity".[12]

His third album, Heritage, was totally instrumental, again showing jazz influences.[1] His group at this time included Djkorya Mory Kante (guitar), Noah Barrett (bass), Baye Kouyati (callabash, talking drum), and Balia Kouyate (balafon).[10] A Billboard review by Philip Van Vleck described it as "a gorgeous album loaded with music that evokes Mali's soul".[10]

His fourth his solo album Douga Mansa, a tribute to his father and grandfather, won the 2010 Grammy for Best Traditional World Music Album.[2][9][13] Also in 2010, he was part of the world music trio Djan Djan which included Bobby Singh, an Australian tabla player, and Jeff Lang, an Australian slide guitarist.[14]

His fifth album, Courage, was recorded in Mali and released in 2011.[15] A review in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer described it as "a truly remarkable disc of music and deserves to be considered equal to anything written or recorded by any composer or symphony orchestra in the rest of the world".[16]


  • Tunga (2000), Alula
  • Behmanka (June 14, 2005), World Village Music
  • Heritage (November 14, 2006), World Village Music
  • Douga Mansa (2008), World Music Village
  • Courage (2011), World Village Music
  • Griot Classique (2014)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Lavaine, Bertrand (2007) "Mamadou Diabate Heritage", RFI music, March 12, 2007. Retrieved August 22, 2013
  2. ^ a b Gesret, Céline (2010) "Mamadou Diabaté: "Si crees en tus decisiones, crees en tu destino"", La Vanguardia, July 30, 2010. Retrieved August 22, 2013
  3. ^ a b c Fink, Matt "Mamadou Diabate Biography", Allmusic. Retrieved August 22, 2013
  4. ^ a b c "Mamadou Diabate delivers tradition with a taste of blues and jazz", Portland Press-Herald, August 21, 2003, p. 13D
  5. ^ Gaynell Patterson, Karin Expressions of Africa in Los Angeles Public Performance, 1781-1994, UMI Microform ref 3296731, pp. 319-320
  6. ^ Rhythm, Volume 9 (2000), Issues 6-11, p. 96
  7. ^ "Must Hear: Mamadou Diabate Tunga", CMJ New Music Report, February 14, 2000, p. 27. Retrieved August 22, 2013
  8. ^ Henderson, Alex "Tunga Review", Allmusic. Retrieved August 22, 2013
  9. ^ a b Menconi, David (2010) "Diabate gets a Grammy lift", News & Observer, February 1, 2010. Retrieved August 22, 2013
  10. ^ a b c Van Vleck, Philip (2006) "Mamadou Diabate Heritage", Billboard, November 25, 2006, p. 52. Retrieved August 22, 2013
  11. ^ "Mamadou Diabate's Dazzling Duet for One", The Washington Post, December 31, 2005. Retrieved August 22, 2013, p. C05
  12. ^ Van Vleck, Philip (2005) "Mamadou Diabate Behmanka", Billboard, June 25, 2005, p. 49. Retrieved August 22, 2013
  13. ^ "Mamadou Diabaté llevará en marzo el ritmo de la kora a España",, February 15, 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2013
  14. ^ Elder, Bruce (15 March 2010). "When musical worlds collide, the sum shines brigh". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 10.
  15. ^ "World Music Review: Mamadou Diabate Archived 2014-01-02 at the Wayback Machine", News & Observer, March 27, 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2013
  16. ^ Marcus, Richard (2011) "Music Review: Mamadou Diabate - Courage", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 26, 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2013

External linksEdit