Our Talented

Cheick Hamala Diabate
Washington may be chock-a-block with lobbyists and consultants, but only one of them rocks the n’goni, the West African plucked lute covered with animal skin. He advises presidents and the World Bank. He’s played for everyone from a struggling couple trying to save their marriage, to the U.S. Congress. He’s hobnobbed with American string and Blues legends—from Bela Fleck to Corey Harris—and along the way reunited his beloved instrument with its long-lost grandchild, America’s banjo.


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“Cheick Hamala’s Griot Street Band carried the evening from beginning to end. They played two sets; one in the middle that appeared to wake everyone up, and the one that closed out the night with people of all ages, sizes, and nationalities. At one point during the crazed dancing, an elderly man fell smack down on his behind from dancing so fast and then to our surprise leaped right back onto his feet without skipping a beat. ”

— Voice of America

“Just listen to those joyous grooves, so bright and full of life! Diabate’s eight-musician line up of tambourine, ngoni (a form of African banjo), balafon, bass, sax, djembe drum, guitar, drum kit and more (musicians switched instruments often) danced in the mild night air like fireflies.”

— Consequence of Sound
“As the show continued, Diabate switched to banjo — the ngoni’s American descendant — and then guitar. In his style of playing, all had a trebly tone and staccato delivery. The notes chimed and twirled, merging with the clipped beats of the djembe, the balafon, the beaded calabash and the Western drum kit. The music was simultaneously static and propulsive, and designed to get people moving.”

— Washington Post
“West African musician Cheick Hamala Diabaté played to a packed and lively crowd at the Pocahontas Opera House on Saturday night…By the end of Diabaté’s set, nearly the entire Opera House was up on its feet. Diabaté performed a traditional role call to introduce the band members and even some audience members, where every one danced and clapped along. “I love Marlinton. I can’t wait to come back!” Diabaté shouted. “I want to move here!”

The crowd cheered and some even danced out the doors on their way home.”

— Pocahontas Times
“(On “Prudence” EP) Grammy nominated Mali musician Chieck gets the remix treatment from a very impressive roll call of editors. NYCTrust adds a sense of funk glamour to proceedings, Whiskey Barons relish in the soul-stirring vocal, Jon Kennedy adds some chop-slapping breakbeats to the mix while Daytoner go all-out for an Afrobeat adventure. Also included is the beautiful original and Sol Power All-Stars remix of “Fatou Kounkoun Sissoko”. What a package.”

— Juno UK
“A remarkable album awaited my ears. Corey Harris, one of my favorite bluesmen, joins on vocals and slide guitar, and the entire cast of eighteen musicians help support the well-trained Diabate on his upbeat, uplifting sojourn on the ironically titled album translation: “Take it Slow.” There is little slow on this very danceable recording.”

— Huffington Post
“The EP of remixes I feel clearly encompasses Cheik Hamala Diabate’s mission of staying true with his roots and griot nature (griot is a West African storyteller/poet) by bringing the traditional West African music into the mix with modern electronic composers and musicians, to reach out across the world to teach and inspire.”

— Generation Bass