Artist Profiles: Madou Sidiki Diabate

Madou Sidiki Diabate
Madou Sidiki Diabate

Madou Sidiki Diabate presents a night of traditional West African music that dates back centuries. While relatives – his famous older brother Toumani Diabate and his cousin Mamadou Diabate – and others often put the kora into world fusion trappings, Madou Sidiki Diabate champions the kora’s traditional roots. Toumani Diabate (the world’s first Grammy Award-winning kora player) said of “Mariam”, Madou’s 2007 solo kora CD: “Mariam is the best solo kora album to date. I listen to it all the time and I am so pleased that my brother has chosen to record this traditional music in a time when so many African musicians are moving in a more modern direction.”

Born in 1982 to a prominent jeli (griot) family of Bamako, Mali, Mamadou, widely known as “Madou,” is the youngest son of the late Sidiki Diabaté and Mariam Kouyaté. His father, Sidiki Diabaté, “The King of the Kora,” used his talents as a jeli to effect social change in the country in the years between World War II and the Malian independence of 1961.

Madou began playing kora at age three and became the 71st generation of kora players in his family. From Sidiki, Madou learned the repertoire, technique, and magic of the kora. He developed as a djeli through the years by accompanying his parents as they traveled and performed. At the age of six he played his first concert, and in 1992 he became the youngest ever to perform solo kora on Malian television.

Since 1997, Madou has filled his brother Toumani’s former position as lead kora for some of the best singers and musicians in West Africa, including Kandia Kouyaté, Ami Koita, Baaba Maal, Salif Keita, Sekouba “Bambino” Diabaté, and many others. He has performed at over 1000 concerts and more than 40 festivals throughout Africa, North America, Europe, and Australia.

Madou currently lives in the Malian capital of Bamako with his wife, singer Safiatou Diabaté. He is highly respected for his command of the traditional kora repertoire and is also on the cutting edge of jazz manding, a modern direction, combining jazz sensibilities and foreign influences with the Malian sound. Today, he is considered one of the best kora players in all of West Africa. He has appeared on more than a dozen recordings by others, most notably jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater’s “Red Earth” (2007), where she went to Africa and recorded jazz songs with African instrumental backing.


Mariam (Kanaga System Krush, 2007)

Mali Latino (2010)

Live in India (Amarrass Records, 2013)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.


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