Kassé Mady Diabaté has been recognised as one of West Africa’s finest singers for almost half a century. A descendant of a highly distinguished griot family from the heart of the 13th century Manden Empire, his name in Mali is considered ‘musical royalty’.
With this new album “Kiriké”, Kasse Mady is busy reinventing himself. In the songs he sings in Bambara, the dominant language of southern Mali, ‘the man with the voice of velvet’ reveals an altogether different personality; an old peasant grumbling at the margins of his field in a language infinitely rootsier and more flavoursome than the grand Malinké of the classic griot praise-songs. A fifty yearlong career hasn’t blunted his high-notes, but rather added richness to the astonishing gentleness of his baritone, making his voice better suited to this ‘chamber music’ than to the brilliant sheen of fusionistic pop.
It’s a sound attuned to the modern ear; a consecration of one of Mali’s greatest voices.