This Friday 30 November, Kélétigui Diabaté, one of the greatest figures in Malian contemporary music, passed away in Bamako.
Despite being eighty-one years old, the virtuoso instrumentalist had been performing up until last month.
Famed primarily as a balafón player, Diabaté was also a talented guitarist, violinist, and saxophonist. Not only did he play a key role in Orchestré de la Garde Républicaine, he was also a founding member of L’Orchestre National “A” de la Republique de Mali, which, led by Diabaté on guitar, was formed as part of a cultural policy formed to promote the appreciation of Malian art.
In 1998 he joined Habib Koité’s band, whom he stayed with until 2009. During this time he played a vital role in many live performances and album recordings.
Diabaté did not release a solo album until 2004, despite having left his distinctive mark on many other works. This album, Santiya,is a perfect example of the exceptional musicianship which has played an essential role in the history of Malian and West-African music: Diabaté will be greatly missed.