One of Africa’s greatest singers and Guinea’s biggest star, Sekouba “Bambino” Diabate performs in the Bay Area for the first time in three years. He and his band play some of the most infectious and uplifting music from his three-decade career, both new songs and classics, mixing Afrobeat, acoustic, and experimental forms into a signature style.
Diabate grew up in the village of Siguiri near the Malian border, descended from griots, who carry on West African family and cultural histories through story and song. Diabate learned from his mother, one of the leading singers in the area, and garnered attention early on for his voice. Thirty years ago he became the youngest-ever singer in the country’s most acclaimed ensemble when he was appointed by Guinean President Sekou Toure to sing with the national band, Bembeya Jazz National. “I was the smallest in the group,” Diabate remembers, “and since we had already Sekou le grand (guitarist-bandleader Sekou "Diamond Fingers" Diabate), I became Sekou le petit, the bambino in the ensemble.”
Though Diabate is still associated in many people’s minds with the legendary Bembeya Jazz, he has pursued a solo career for many years now. The 1997 CD Kassa established him as Guinea’s most experimental composer, unafraid to tweak and twist classic Mande rhythms and melodies. His 2002 recording Sinikan was a #1 hit in Africa and on Europe’s world music charts. His songs have appeared on compilations from Rough Guides’ African music collections to the Buddha Bar lounge remix series.
Diabate does not take his griot heritage lightly. His love for his people and for the whole of humanity has helped him transcend language and cultural borders to spread his dream of peace and tolerance. His lyrics speak to the human condition, and encouraging us to treat one another with kindness and respect.
Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center
1317 San Pablo Ave. at Gilman Berkeley, CA 94702
Thursday, July 3 – Doors at 9:00 p.m.; Show at 9:30 p.m.