The Griot Tradition of Cheick Hamala Diabaté

DiabateCheick Hamala Diabaté is recognized as one of the world’s masters of the ngoni, a traditional Malian instrument. A much sought-after performer, lecturer, storyteller, and choreographer throughout Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America, Cheick Hamala is a steward of the 800-year-old tradition of the Griot (the storytellers of West Africa).

In his teaching and his performances, Cheick Hamala shares the oral history, music and song of his culture as it was passed on to him. At an early age, Cheick Hamala mastered the ngoni, a stringed lute and ancestor to the banjo. He learned to play the guitar from his uncle and now plays banjo and several other instruments; but his renown remains with the historical ngoni.

Cheick Hamala works with notable traditional African dance companies based in the United States, serving as instructor, choreographer and performer. His music always the historical integrity of a rich tradition stretching back hundreds of years to the formation of the Great Malian Empire.

Cheick Hamala will be teaching guitar at the Port Townsend Country Blues Festival, July 29 – August 5. On Saturday, August 4, at 1:30 pm, he will perform an extended mainstage set, featuring many traditional Malian instruments and songs.