25 Apr, 2018
Senegalese musician Diabel Cissokho is part of the great line of Cissokho griots, West Africa's travelling musicians, poets and storytellers. Growing up in Dakar, surrounded by a rich musical heritage and a family of musicians, Diabel began playing a number of traditional instruments but his affinity with the kora was clear from an early age.
Diabel’s musical pedigree is exceptional. International tours with his family’s band Bannaya led to a long stint as Baaba Maal’s kora player, as well as with acclaimed musicians such as Kandia Kouyate, Pee Wee Ellis, Omar Pene, Cheikh Lo, Ernest Ranglin and Youssou N’Dour. Now well established in the UK, Diabel’s virtuosic talent, his “resonant voice and rocking kora style” (Songlines), have been welcomed everywhere from WOMAD and Glastonbury to London’s Barbican, where he performed alongside Femi Kuti, Cheikh Lo and Manu Dibango.
July 2016 saw the release of Diabel’s fourth album ’Tambacounda Express’, an album that draws on the eclectic mix of cultures that pass through the region where Diabel was born, Tambacounda in Senegal. With influences from Senegal, Mali, to Mauritania, Guinea, Niger, and Morocco, the result is a rhythmically, lyrically and melodically diverse collection of songs with strong roots in the blues, alongside the traditional Mandinkan melodies of his griot ancestry. After a successful 2017 tour, 2018 sees Diabel touring and back to the studio to work on his fifth album.