Toumani & Sidiki

Kora-master Toumani Diabaté presents his son Sidiki – 72nd generation of Diabaté griots – to the world.

Toumani Diabaté is one of the most creatively prolific and successful musicians on the African continent, and was described by the Observer as “one of the world’s most pre-eminent musicians in any genre”. He plays the kora, a harp with 21 strings unique to West Africa. More than any other kora player, it’s Toumani who is responsible for bringing this instrument to audiences around the world. He’s a performer of truly exceptional virtuosity and creativity – someone who has shown that the kora can rival the world’s greatest instruments.

Toumani was born in Bamako, the capital of Mali, in 1965 into a family of griots (hereditary musician/historian caste) whose lineage stretches back 71 generations, father to son. His father, Sidiki Diabaté (c. 1922-96), was a kora player of legendary fame in West Africa – dubbed King of the Kora – who became famous for his virtuoso “hot” and idiosyncratic style of playing, echoes of which can be heard in Toumani’s style. Sidiki’s first wife, Toumani’s mother, was the singer Nene Koita.

Mali’s recent military coups in 2012 was one of the main impulses behind Toumani’s decision to record an album of duets with his son, Sidiki Diabaté, a hugely talent kora player and a successful hip hop artist. He wanted to present the 72nd generation of Diabaté griots to the world, but also reaffirm his belief that Mali’s most precious assets are its music and culture, its traditional faith and the bonds that bind its many different peoples.

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