I was born in 1973 into a West African “Jeli” family in Burkina Faso. In my family there is a long tradition of practising the profession of story telling and music making (playing the balafon).
The very first Diabate (originally Dian-baga-te = the irresistible) was mentioned in the Sundiata epic in the 13th century. I was about 5 years old when my professional education began. My first teacher was my father Peneque Diabate, who in his days was considered the best balafon playerfar beyond the borders of the Sambla culture. “Marijata”, his praise song for Thomas Sankara was very popular in the 1980s, his xylophone music could be heard as the signal on Radio Burkina for over ten years. My older brothers, Sadama and Sibiri, who, today, are the most popular balafon players of the Sambla, also taught me.
I was 8 years old, when I began to complete my apprenticeship with well-known balafon-players of the neighbouring cultures like Siamou, Tusia, Senufo, Gan, Lobi, Dagara and Bobo. My virtuosity – some people say, I would have more than two hands – I owe to my former teacher Daouda Diabate, the still unrivalled and “untameable” balafon player of the Tusia.
I was still a young boy, when I decided to extend my skills and widen my musical horizons with the help of modern or rather neo-traditional musicians such as Farafina, Sababougnoma, Frères Coulibaly, who later became world-famous. This happened against the will of my parents, who expected me to stick by our Jeli-Tradition. In 1988 they finally reconciled with me, when my father was looking for a suitable second balafon player for the National Cultural Festival (SNC) of Burkina Faso. During the following years we repeatedly won the festival‘s first prize. The video recordings of our successes are to be found in the archives of the Burkina-TV. In 1991 I met Ousmane Dembele (“Zoumana”) from the musician-dynasty Dembele who was the same age as myself and played the jembe excellently. Together with Moussa Coulibaly (a member of an other important musician-dynasty) and Abdoulaye Dembele we formed a group which later became well known as “Landaya“. I became the composer and the balafon soloist of the group. In 1998 we won the first prize for the National Culture Festival.
Since April 2000 I live in Austria and have given lot of concerts both in inland and abroad (England, France, Hungary, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Pakistan, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Swiss, Tunisia, Indonesia, Turkey) and participated in some Festivals (Bobo Dioulasso (Burkina Faso), Cape Coast (Ghana), Lahore (Pakistan), Saalfelden (A), Wiesen (A), Rudolstadt (D), Tabruk (Tunisia).
Until now I recorded 8 CDs:
Sababu man dogo (2001) – Solo CD
Keneya (2002) – tradicional pieces of the Sambla from Burkina Faso, played with Balafon and Talking Drum
Sira Fila (2003) – Mamadou Diabate with Bekadya (project with european Jazz-musicians)
Folikelaw (2005) –CD with the Saxofon-player Sigi Finkel
Kamalenya (2006) – Mamadou Diabate & Percussion Mania
Balanfola (2008) – Solobalafon
Yala (2010) – 2nd CD with the Saxofon player Sigi Finkel
Kanuya (2011) – Mamadou Diabate´s Percussion Mania
Now I´m playing a lot of concerts in different countries (mostly in Europe) with my group Percussion Mania, and I´m teaching in workshops for Balafon and Djembe.
Mamadou’s group Percussion Mania won:
– the grand prix Lamissa Bengaly of the BALAFON TRIANGLE 2012
– the AUSTRIAN WORLD MUSIC AWARD 2011
Mamadou himself won the prix Alkaly Camara de la virtuosité of the BALAFON TRIANGLE 2012