Maître du Djembe - Master of the Malinke Djembe Tradition
Famoudou Konaté is one of only a handful of initiated Masters of the Malinké drumming tradition. In almost 50 years of tours and performances as Guinea's leading djembefola, he has elevated the djembe orchestra from its traditional roots to worldwide popularity.
Among Guinean drummers, he is universally recognized for his unsurpassed knowledge of the repertoire of the Malinké people, the creators of the djembe and dunun drums and its core tradition. A true, world renown virtuoso, Famoudou is universally respected as one of the world’s premiere Djembe and Dunun Drum Masters. He has dedicated his life to performing and preserving the music of his people, helping to elevate the djembe orchestra from its traditional roots to worldwide popularity.
Famoudou was born in 1940 in Sangbarala, a village in the Hamanah region of Upper Guinea. Hamanah is the Malinké heartland in Guinea, and is also the birthplace of the Dundunba family of rhythms which are Famoudou's specialty. A percussive prodigy, he was drumming in community festivals and ceremonies by age eight, and was in demand throughout the region as a djembefola by the age of fourteen.
Recruited into Guinea's Les Ballets Africains in 1959, he was the Lead Djembe Drummer for Les Ballets until 1985, performing with astounding virtuosity and creating many of the musical arrangements now common in ballets and performance groups world-wide. Famoudou toured the world performing to wide acclaim for 26 years, establishing Les Ballets as West Africa's foremost performing company.
Since 1986, he has taught and performed annually in Europe, instilling a generation of European djembe drummers with an extraordinary level of training, while teaching with thoroughness, patience and humor. His pioneering contributions were recognized in 1996 with an Honorary Professorship in African Musical Education and Practice from the Academy of Arts in Berlin. Since 2000, he has also taught annually in North America, Japan, Israel, and of course, West Africa.
Famoudou Konaté is the main soloist in this 1968 video of Les Ballets Africains.
Famoudou has recorded 9 classic djembe CDs; has co-authored a book on the drum music of the Malinké people; and has been guest soloist on 3 CDs and in 2 films with Mamady Keïta. He has a new DVD and a new CD Hamana Kundö only available direct from Germany or through DrumConnection in the US. Since leaving Les Ballets, he has directed The Famoudou Konaté Ensemble and the groups Hamanah Diara, Hamanah Dan Ba and Hamana Föli Kan. He is also a key member of the group Mögöbalu (the Masters), alongside dundunfola Daouda Kourouma and Master Drummer Mamady Keïta.
He is a Master Teacher, working across cultures, languages and skill levels to assist students with an approachable, patient and flexible teaching style. Famoudou’s passion for the music infuses every workshop. In each session, he effectively communicates a wealth of knowledge and drumming experience through his hands, his heart and his warm sense of humor. Everyone benefits from hands-on, personal contact with Famoudou throughout the workshop experience.
More Video of Famoudou Konaté