Cheick Hamala Diabate is a West African historian in the Griot tradition, and a world-recognized master of the ngoni, a Malian traditional instrument. A steward of the 800 year-old tradition of the Griot, the storytellers of West Africa, Cheick Hamala shares the oral history, music and song of his culture as it was passed on to him from birth by parent to child. At an early age, Cheick Hamala easily mastered the ngoni, a stringed lute and ancestor to the banjo.
Upon coming to the US, Cheick Hamala was intrigued by the resemblance between his beloved ngoni and the American banjo, even sharing tunings and picking styles. Cheick’s album of banjo duets with Carlin, From Mali to America, was nominated for a grammy in 2007 for Best Traditional World Music Album.