Cheick Hamala is a Malian Griot, steeped in the long traditions of Mali. His music, however, embraces the panoply of sound he discovered in America, taking him beyond the traditional.
Cheick Hamala Diabate, the Grammy-nominated musician from Mali, West Africa, is recognized as one of the world's masters of the n’goni (a Malian traditional instrument). He is a West African historian in the Griot tradition, a sought-after performer, lecturer, storyteller and choreographer.
Cheick Hamala was born into a Griot family in Kita, Mali. From a young age he learned to play the n’goni, a stringed instrument related to the American banjo. A steward of the 800 year-old tradition of the Griot, the storytellers and advisors of West Africa, Cheick Hamala shares the oral history, music and songs of his culture as it was passed down from parent to child. He learned to play the guitar from his uncle, the legendary guitarist Djelimady Tounkara and currently plays several instruments but his renown remains with the historical n’goni.
He has received many awards for his work with West-African communities in the US and has performed at many notable venues and festivals throughout the US such as The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Richmond Folk Festival, The Kennedy Center and The Lincoln Center. He has also performed throughout Africa, India, Europe, Asia and Canada. He has collaborated and recorded with many world-renown musicians such as Oumou Sangare, Ami Koita, Toumani Diabate, Sidiki Diabate, Fadiala Diawara, Bela Fleck and Bob Carlin.