Kasse Mady is one of West Africa’s greatest voices and one of the most cherished singers in Mali. He is known for his profound knowledge of Mali’s deepest oral and musical traditions, for his ability to adapt these traditions into a modern context and last, but not least, for the sheer beauty and ethereal quality of his tenor voice.
He’s a griot, a guardian of Mali’s ancient culture, but in the west he is best known for his fusion projects. He sang on Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabaté’s Kulanjan, an album praised by President Obama, worked with Toumani’s amplified big band, Symmetric Orchestra, and performed alongside Cuban stars in AfroCubism.
He was born in 1949 in Kela, a renowned center of the Mande jeli tradition in western Mali, near Kangaba, one of the seats of the great Mali Empire (1235-1469). Kasse Mady’s family, the Diabates of Kela , all of whom are Jelis were the singers for the emperors and their descendants, the royal Keita lineage. And still today they are considered among the most important and authoritative Jeli families across seven West African countries where Mande culture predominates.