Cheick Hamala’s Griot Street



Venue:Cheick Hamala's Griot Street


Washington DC’s resident griot, Cheick Hamala Diabate is The Real Deal: a storyteller, poet, historian, and – dare we say – rock ‘n’ roll star straight from Mali. With the griot tradition firmly nestled in his family tree – his cousin is kora virtuoso Toumani Diabate; and his uncle is Djelimady Tounkara, legendary guitarist for the Super Rail Band – his music evokes wisdom from the elders while maintaining an infectious beat, ideal for dancing.

Cheick has played his n’goni (a banjo-like stringed instrument made from calabash and animal skin) the world over for audiences as varied as summer festival revelers and world music connoisseurs to World Bank dignitaries and the U.S. Congress. Along the way he has collaborated with artists like Bela Fleck, Bob Carlin, and Corey Harris and has opened for just about every notable African act, including Niger’s Bombino and Khaïra Arby, Mali’s Queen of Blues.

Among his very long list of accolades – including nods from NPR, invitations to the White House, and his name on Wikipedia’s “griot” page – Cheick was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music Album for his 2007 record, From Mali to America.

Cheick is home at Bossa every Tuesday night and is often joined by an assortment of special guests – from dancers and percussionists to vocalists and hip hop artists. Play your cards right, and you just might catch him on a night when his nephew joins him, complete with his balafon, a large, traditional idiophone akin to the xylophone!

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