8 Greatest Djembe Players of All Time

Above is our latest video, hot out the studio with an African soundtrack to match. Enjoy!

Choosing the best djembe players of all time is not easy! We've narrowed it down to these 8 great masters of the beat.

8. Bolokada Conde

* Musical prodigy from Sankaran region
* Replaced the legendary Noumoudy Keïta as lead drummer in Les Percussions de Guinée
* "...one of the few masters of his instrument." - Mamady Keïta

Photo: www.bolokadaconde.com

7. Adama Drame

* born 1954, Burkina Faso
* Sixth-generation griot djeli (musician/historian/storyteller)
* Unusual for a djeli to play the djembe
* Instructor & artistic leader of Ballet Foliba

6. Babatunde Olatunji 1927 - 2003

* Debut album 'Drums of Passion' (1960) remains in print.
* Championed African interests worldwide.
* Not strictly speaking a 'djembefola'.
* Recorded with John Coltrane, Stevie Wonder

5. Ladji Camara 1923 - 2004

* Performed with Les Ballets Africains de la République de Guinée in the 1950s.
* Introduced the djembe to New York.

4. Abdoulaye Diakité

b. 1950, Senegal.
* Lead soloist Ballet National du Senegal
* Founded the annual Tambacounda West African Drum & Dance Camp
* Ambassador of Bamana culture

Courtesy: DrumSkull Drums

3. Soungalo Coulibaly 1955 - 2004

* Self taught with a vast repertoire
* Outstanding soloist
* Invented 'Flez' music, a rhythmic melodic crossover style

Photo: Suzy Mazzanisi/Djinn Djow

2. Famoudou Konaté

b. 1940 Upper Guinea
* Lead soloist for Les Ballets Africains de la République de Guinée
"Famoudou's hand is so clean, his sound is so pure, that I wondered if I'd ever be able to play like him." -Mamady Keïta

Photo: www.famoudoukonate.com

1. Mamady Keïta

b. 1950, Guinea
* Grand master, artistic director & soloist of Le Ballet National Djoliba
* Star of Laurent Chevallier’s award-winning documentary 'Djembefola'
* Founded Tam Tam Mandingue percussion school

We would also like to acknowledge:

Abdoul Doumbia, Abdoulaye Dembélé, Aboubacar Camara, Aboubakar Keita, Alhassane Camara dit Dartagnan, Alsény Solo Chérif, Arafan Touré, Amara Kante, Amadou Kienou, Babara Bangoura, Doudou N’Diaye Rose, Dramane Koné, Drissa Kone, Fadouba Oularé, Fode Moussa Camara, Fofana Georges Kémoko, Gbangworo Keita, Harouna Dembélé, Ibrama Saar, Kemoko Sano, Koumgbanan Condé, Lamine Soumah, Latyr Sy, Laurent Camara, Losséni Koné, Lancei Kante, Mady Keita, Madou Djembe, Mamady "Wadaba" Kourouma, Mamadou Camara, Maré Sanogo, Mamadou Sylla, Mamady "N'Toman" Keita, Mor Thiam, Mohamed Diaby, Mohamed "Didi" Keita, Moussa Koné, Noumoudy Keita, Nansady Keita, Oumarou Bambara, Salif Sylla, Sediki Condé, Séga Sidibe, Thomas Guei, Yamadu Bani Dunbia, Zoumana Dembele

"Hidi" by Afrodrumming
available at www.afrodrumming.com

Background Footage
Famoudou Konate - famoudoukonate.com

With thanks to:
Bolokada Conde
Thomas Goldhahn
Famoudou Konate
Vincent Zanetti
Djinn Djow - djinndjow.ch
Suzi Mazzanisi - suzyphoto.ch
DrumSkull Drums - drumskulldrums.com