Artist Profiles: Assitan Mamani Keita

Mamani Keita

Born in Bamako of a Malinke father and Bambara mother, two of the 3 ethnic groups living in Mali, Assitan Mamani Keita was brought up by her maternal grandmother as is the local custom. Her grandmother helped her to discover her singing talent and taught her the rhythms of West Africa and the Bambara melodies used to heal the sick.

Spotted at an early age by a manager who asked her to join the local theater group, Assitan’s voice did not go unnoticed and she went on to become a soloist, firstly for the Bamako District Orchestra and then for the Badema National, Mali’s National Orchestra, traveling all across Africa.

Since moving to Paris at the age of 22, Assitan has worked with Salif Keita, American pianist Hank Jones and the Malian keyboard player Sheik Tidiane Seick. In 1998 she joined the group Tama with Guinean singer Djanuno Dabo, Londoner Sam Mills, and Assitan’s fellow-countryman Tom Diakité. Their Bambara lyrics rest specifically upon West African rhythms mixed with typical European sounds. Assitan is now working on her solo album, writing songs in Bambara and mixing jazz and techno influences to the traditional pentatonic scale.

Discography:

Electro Bamako (EmArcy, 2001)
Yelema (No Format, 2006)
Gagner L’argent Français (No Format, 2011)
Kanou (World Village, 2013)
Visions Of Selam (Accords Croisés, 2018)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV 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 albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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