Mamady Keta Master Drummer



Mamady Keta (surname sometimes also spelled Keita; b. Balandugu, Siguiri Prefecture, Kankan Region, Guinea, August 1950) is a master drummer from the West African nation of Guinea. He specializes in the goblet-shaped hand drum called djembe and is considered one of the world's foremost performers of this instrument. He is also the founder of the Tam Tam Mandingue school of drumming. He is a member of the Manding ethnic group. Keta was born in the small village of Balandugu (sometimes spelled Balandougou), Guinea, in the northeastern prefecture of Siguiri, near the border of Mali. His initiation to the djembe started at the early age of seven, under Karinkadjan Kond, elder djembefola (master djembe player) of Balandugu, who showed him all the secrets of the djembe. Keta was educated in the traditions of his village, and initiated into the history and music of the Manding (also spelled Mandingue) people. At the age of twelve, he became a member of the first regional federal ballet of Siguiri after Balanka Sidiki, a recruiter for the group, came to Balandugu looking for performers. In 1964 Keta left Balandugu to become a member of the Djoliba Ballet, in which he served as lead drummer and soloist until 1979. The group practiced in a special stage constructed for this purpose at the residence of Skou Tour. In 1979, Keta became the artistic director of the troupe, a position he held until 1986. During his time, he went on numerous tours throughout the world, performing in West, Central, and East Africa, China, Egypt, Germany, Scandinavia, France, Switzerland, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union. In 1986, wishing to leave the cocoon formed by the ballet and become a more independent musician, Keta joined Souleymane Koli's troupe, Koteba, in Abidjan, and he stayed with it for a year and a half. In 1991, Keta decided it was time to go his own way and he established his own percussion school which he called Tam Tam Mandingue, literally "drums of the Manding." The school rapidly acquired international renown and opened branches in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan, and the United States. In Belgium alone, the school has over 300 students from the beginner to the professional levels. Nowadays, Keta resides in San Diego, California, United States, with his wife Monette Marino-Keta.

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