The eighth release from Kanaga System Krush. A Fair Trade World Music label featuring Traditional and Contemporary West African musicians. We have been recording in Mali the last four years. Our label is dedicated to preserving Traditional music from Mali. We have raised the bar in field recording with professional multi track digital recordings, which are then mixed at one of the top recording studios in Northern California. At the same time, we are all over the modern music scene playing, studying,and recording. We feel this gives us a fresh more inside perspective for producing Traditonal and Contemporary music from some of Mali's most talented artists.
Born in 1982 to a prominent Djeli (Griot) family of Bamako, Mali, Mamadou, widely known as “Madou,” is the youngest son of the late Sidiki Diabaté and Mariam Kouyaté. To begin Madou’s biography here, without a greater explanation of his family’s history, is a great understatement of the depth of his experience and the honor of his lineage.
Madou’s father, Sidiki Diabaté, “The King of the Kora”, was originally from The Gambia, immigrating to Mali as an artist pioneer, using his talents as a djeli to affect social change in the country in the years between World War II and the Malian Independence of 1961. During this period, Sidiki originated and popularized the song Kaira, the name of a collective of young djeliw in the Kita region of western Mali who organized cultural gatherings and were a powerful voice in the call for independence. Because of their strong nationalist message, the group was banned by the colonial French. Despite this, Sidiki traveled widely throughout Mali playing Kaira as a call for unity, and support of the R.D.A. (African Democratic Movement) led by Modibo Keita, who later became the first President of Mali after Independence.
Sidiki was also a founding member of L’Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali, one of West Africa’s first national acoustic groups and one that was entirely focused on the preservation of Malian, or Mande, history, as opposed to some of the more westernized national bands of Guinea and Mali.
In 1971, Sidiki was a featured soloist on Ancient Strings, an album of kora duets which brought together Mali’s most respected korists, namely Sidiki Diabaté, Djelimadi Sissoko, Batrou Sekou Kouyaté and N’fa Diabaté. This recording was a major land-mark in many regards. It was the first recording to feature the kora exclusively, as compared to earlier recordings and the prevalent style of the djeli, which placed the kora as an accompaniment to vocalists. Ancient Strings also served as an introduction, to the western world, of the depth and complexity of Malian music, which is still largely under-rated, though it has been increasingly gaining attention. For those who appreciate the kora, this recording is still a benchmark of quality, and one of the best examples of the style of the previous generation.
Madou’s older brother is the first Grammy-Award winning kora player, Toumani Diabaté. Toumani recorded the world’s first solo kora album, Kaira, and has collaborated with musicians from all over the world, including Taj Mahal, Ketama, and Roswell Rudd to name a few. Toumani’s reaction to Mariam is strong, “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.”
Madou began playing kora at the age of three, and became the seventy-first generation of korists in his family. He was initiated by his father on an eight-stringed kora. 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, at the Centre Culturel Français of Bobodioulasso, Burkina Faso. In 1992, Madou became the youngest ever to perform solo kora on Malian Television. Since 1997, he 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 numerous recording credits and has performed over one thousand concerts and more than forty festivals throughout Africa, North America, Europe, and Australia.
Madou currently lives in 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.