Sékouba Bambino Diabaté



For several years Sekouba "Bambino" Diabaté is one of Guinée’s most popular singers. He grew up in a griot family in Guinea near the border with Mali. His story has been well documented: Born in 1963 into a "griot" family and discovered as a young vocal talent in his home in Siguiri in Haute Guinée. Enrolment at the age of 16 into the nation’s top group Bembeya Jazz National at the instigation of then President Sékou Touré.

"When I was young, just after independence had been proclaimed, everyone wanted to be as modern as possible, so the griots weren't really respected, especially if they were artists or musicians. Those who chose an artistic career were regarded as parasites who belonged to the past. Today things have changed. The people of Guinea have understood that without the griots, my county's collective memory would have disappeared."

In the '60s, President Sekou Toure nationalized all of Guinea's musical ensembles. They were by definition political music groups. Sekouba Diabate performed with the orchestra known as Bembeya. "When I joined Bembeya, Afro-Cuban music was still all the rage. So later, when I joined Africando, it wasn't such a culture shock for me." Solo success after the virtual demise of Bembeya. International success with the release of the cd Kassa in 1997 and finally integration, on an occasional basis, into the Afro-Latin international mega-stars "Africando". Sekouba Bambino is desperately proud of his country’s rich musical tradition, but at the same time keen to present his music in a contemporary and very internationally appealing manner.

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