bob carlin/cheick hamala diabate
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bob carlin/cheick hamala diabate

Band World Bluegrass


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FROM MALI TO AMERICA--5-String Productions 5SP06004, winner of this year's Washington Area Music Association "Wammie" in World Music, nominated for "Best Traditional World Music" Grammy and "Best World Music CD" by Folk Alliance; over seventy other recordings as performer, producer, engineer and/or compiler



Banjoist Bob Carlin has been offering performances, lectures and workshops for over thirty years. Carlin had largely left the solo arena in the mid-1990s after an invitation to join the band of songwriter John Hartford.

For six years, Bob Carlin toured throughout the United States and Canada with Hartford, even accompanying John on a ten day Japanese sojourn. Since the death of John Hartford in 2001, Bob Carlin has returned to solo performing, teaching and appearances with other musicians.

Over the years, Bob Carlin has studied the African roots of the American banjo. Most recently, Carlin has joined forces with master Malian musician Cheick Hamala Diabaté in performances that bridge the Atlantic musical divide.

Cheick Hamala Diabaté (pronounced shake haMAHla jaBAHtaby) was born in Kita, Mali, and is recognized as one of the top ngoni (a stringed lute that is the ancestor of the American banjo) players living today. The Diabates are a Jali (Griot) family that trace their heritage back over eight hundred years. The Jeli are the historians of West Africa. Along with the playing of music, a Jali is called upon to recount the history of the people via the spoken and sung word. A Griot is anointed by genetics and is trained from birth by his family elders in all aspects of the Griot tradition.

Cheick Hamala quickly became a master of several traditional Jali instruments (he also plays the western guitar), but has focused his skill on the ngoni. From the age of twelve, Cheick Hamala studied at the National Institute of Arts in Bamako, Mali’s capitol. After completing his studies, he began an international performing career, traveling throughout Africa, Europe, Asia and Canada. Among the well-known Malian stars with whom Diabate has appeared include Ami Koita, Kandia Kouyate and Salif Keita. He also recorded for German record labels.

In 1995, Cheick Hamala Diabaté migrated to the United States, where he continued to perform within the Malian community for public and private celebrations. Cheick Hamala has also endeavored to bring his wonderful music to American audiences, appearing at the National Museum of African Art, the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and at colleges, universities and concerts throughout the country.