Biography of Naïny Diabaté
Malian Singing Superstar
Naïny Diabaté was born in Bamako, the capital of the West African nation of Mali, in 1963. A member of the jalia or griot occupational caste, she began singing in kindergarten at the age of five. During her primary school years she often accompanied her mother who sang traditional Mandingue music at weddings and other cultural festivals. By 1976 it was clear that Naïny would follow in the footsteps of her fore bearers and pursue a musical career. She left school to pursue full-time performance and within a year had won first prize as a soloist in an inter neighborhood competition in her home city of Bamako.
In 1979, Naïny joined the renowned Mali Rail Band, the group that also launched such renowned Malian Superstars as Salif Keita and Mory Kanté. The early 1980s found the star in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire, where she awed the Ivorian public with her golden voice. From there she began touring the West African Region. Back in Mali in 1983 she performed on the newly inaugurated Malian National Television Service reestablishing her musical presence in her native Mali. With her success came the development of her style. By the late 1980s, her arrangements had added a good deal of modern instrumentation to the traditional Mandingue sound.
Naïny performed her first European concert in Avignon, France in 1986, and since then has performed regularly at festivals in France, Spain, Switzerland, and Morocco. Naïny is considered one of the great female superstars in Mali, nation enamored with the belting throaty sounds of the female songstress. Between 1987 and 2008, Ms. Diabaté has released eight albums. Her latest production, a double album named “Fantanya” and “Dansa” emerged in late December 2007.
Naïny Diabaté is married to the guitarist and producer Cheik Oumar Diabaté and has one teenaged son, Gaoussou Diabaté who plays the drums in a youth ensemble.