Mamady Keïta (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. Keïta 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 Kondé, elder djembefola (master djembe player) of Balandugu,
who showed him all the secrets of the djembe. Keïta 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 Keïta 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 Sékou Touré. In 1979, Keïta 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, Keïta joined Souleymane Koli's
troupe, Koteba, in Abidjan, and he stayed with it for a year and a half.
In 1991, Keïta 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, Keïta resides in San Diego, California, United States, with his wife Monette Marino-Keïta.