Abdoulaye Diabate sings in the griot tradition of West Africa. Griot means herald, or praise singer, and their songs of celebration, counsel and history play a vital role in these cultures that have an oral, versus written, tradition. Besides being storytellers and historians,
Abdoulaye was born in Mali, to a family of praise singers that traces its lineage back to the founding of the Empire of Mali in the 13th Century. With his compositions and improvisations, Abdoulaye returns to the roots of his culture in Mali, known as “baden ya”: the passing of tradition from parent to child that keeps culture itself alive across generations and continents.
Abdoulaye was featured in 2012, alongside the Paul Winter Sextet.
Paul Winter met Abdoulaye during a long search for a singer who could sing in the tradition of the West African song “Minuit,” which the Consort has played for years as part of the finale of the Solstice event. This beloved “village song,” which Paul heard in the Ballet Africaines many years ago, was originally sung by a high lilting male voice very much like that of Abdoulaye’s. Paul was thrilled to find that Abdoulaye knew “Minuit” very well, and that also he was a virtuoso improvising singer on the level of famed West African singer Salif Keita.