Abou Diarra

Kamelen N’goni, or “Young Person’s Harp”, is a stringed instrument that has gained wide acclaim after being used by artists like Oumou Sangaré. Among its younger virtuosos, Abou Diarra stands out in particular. After his father’s death, he left his hometown and went on a long journey through the Mandinka region in West Africa, his instrument the sole companion in his travels. Sangaré walked 4000 kilometers and visited everything from sleepy villages to the big city of Bamako to collect both ancient folk songs and contemporary pop music. Abou Diarra’s own compositions are characterized by this eclectic approach. On the album Koya, named after his mother who also sings on the record, Mandika and Wassolou traditions are mixed with vibrations from both reggae and jazz. Bluesy harmonica notes howl along with cascading melodies from his Kamelen n’goni. With a gentle tenor voice and calm narrative style, Abou Diarra sings songs about travel and exile.