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Mamadou Diabate / Burkina Faso

Mamadou Diabate is a world-renowned, award-winning master of balafon and composer, born in Burkina Faso. He belongs to a family of jeli (griots), who have been telling the story of the Sambla people for many generations with the help of music and songs. The oldest records of the Diabate family date back to the 13th century. At the age of five, Mamadou began his professional instrumental education with his father, Penegue Diabate, who at the time was considered the best balafonist far beyond the borders of Sambla culture. At the age of eight, Mamadou started his apprenticeship with renowned balafonists from the neighbouring cultures.

Today, he is an outstanding virtuoso, and the reviewers try to outdo each other in admiration for his music, claiming that he sounds as if he had two hands more than any other musician. He won individual instrumentalist awards during the National Culture Week in Burkina Faso. With Percussion Mania, he won the Austrian World Music Award and the Grand Prix in the Triangle du Balafon competition in Mali. For his virtuosity he was also awarded the “Prix Alkaly Camara de la virtuosité” prize in Mali. In 2017, he was named a knight of the Burlesin de l’Ordre National in the Burkina Faso. In his home country he built a primary school where poor children are taught free of charge.

His 2002 album "Keneya" was the world’s first recording of the Sambla music and language. Mamadou Diabate played all the instrumental parts on it. Today, his discography includes over a dozen solo recordings, as well as albums recorded with his own ensemble and together with other renowned artists. The list of musicians, with whom he collaborated, includes such internationally renowned artists as Wolfgang Puschnig, Sigi Finkel, Toumani Diabate, Arkady Shilkloper, Habib Koité, and many more.

The sound of his band – Mamadou Diabate & Percussion Mania – is unique due to the use of two balafons as leading instruments. Thanks to that, Percussion Mania is the only band of its kind in the world, different from all other bands from West Africa. Musical dialogues and spectacular balafon fights between Mamadou and his cousin Yacouba Konate (or his brother Seydou Diabate) are one of the main points in the programme. 

The concert took place in 2018.

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