Interview with Kassé Mady Diabaté

This interview and recital was shot in September 2015 at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota, where Kassé Mady Diabaté performed with his group composed of his cousin, Lansiné Kouyaté(balafon), Badjè Tounkara(nkoni) and Balaké Sissoko(Kora), all jaliw or Mande oral artists. This exchange illustrates the process by which they change the repertoire they inherit from their forebears and adapt it to their time and needs. Chérif Keita is seen in the role of the host(patron) or jatigi of the visiting artists. As a noble or horon, he is expected to be as generous as his own ancestors in their patronage(jatigiya) for the artists. This is all the more necessary as Kassé Mady’s family has been connected to Chérif’s family for decades.

Donovan Shirt performs traditional Cree dance

Rapper and motivational speaker Donovan Shirt from Edmonton, Alberta, was recently spotted performing a traditional Cree dance on a moving escalator! Donovan participated as part of Singing Storytellers in October 2014 in Cape Breton. In an article published on April 29th, 2016, CBC News notes that the video was shot by Gary Moostoos, a well-known Indigenous cultural advisor in Edmonton, at the LRT platform beneath Commerce Place as the group waited for a train. To watch the video, please click on the article link above. To learn more about Donovan Shirt, visit our Media section at!

Kazakh bards featured in tonight’s ICTM concert!

It’s been a wonderful first day at the International Council for Traditional Music World Conference in Astana, Kazakhstan at the Kazakh National University of Arts! You can read more about the opening events at this website on the blog. Tonight we were treated to a spectacular concert showcase of Kazakh National U of Arts student and faculty (including the Provost!). Performances by singing storytellers were featured in the concert so I’d like to share a concert photo with you. This student ensemble, led by their teacher, a woman, in playing an instrument that appears to be have been played, historically, by male performers only (much like the bandura it seems)! For more videos (including a bardic performance), follow me on twitter @m_ostashewski and check out the blog on my website at!image

Singing Storytellers – Sunjata Story – featured on BBC!

We are so proud to have had the Singing Storytellers “Sunjata Story” filmic material previewed in London, England at a SOAS conference on identities last week! LISTEN to Cherif Keita tell us about the story during his recent interview on the BBC!

Hawa Kasse Made Diabate, Fode Lassana Diabate, Professor Cherif Keita performing at the Singing Storytellers Symposium.

Hawa Kasse Made Diabate, Fode Lassana Diabate, Professor Cherif Keita performing at the Singing Storytellers Symposium.

Singing Storytellers Edited Collection – Call for Submissions Posted!

One of the legacy components of Singing Storytellers research and public outreach project is an edited collection that includes scholarly articles and transcriptions of interviews with artist/practitioners – a critical dialogue between academic and practitioner perspectives. This edited collection will be published through McGill-Queen’s University Press (MQUP). See here for the full “Call for Submissions” – deadline for proposals, 15 June 2015.

LISTEN TONIGHT to CBC’s Island Echoes: Singing Storytellers…Contemporary Cape Breton Song

Listen TONIGHT online or over the airwaves at 8 – 9 pm Atlantic Time to Wendy Bergfeldt’s CBC Island Echoes: a special Singing Storytellers feature, “I Wish I Was With Them Again’: Diasporic Longing in Contemporary Cape Breton Song” by Amanda Daly Berman (Boston University).

Check back frequently to the Singing Storytellers website – for news and notifications of podcasts, for new films and other ongoing project activities.

African Heritage Month – Bards of the World CBC podcasts!

Check out these two new podcasts that include concert recordings from Singing Storytellers performances! Drawing on footage from the fall 2014 concerts and new interviews, CBC’s Wendy Bergfeldt created two Island Echoes shows: Bards of the World Part 1, and Part 2 – featuring Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté and Lassana Diabaté. And – if you are currently in London! – you’ll want to check out a concert involving these two extraordinary Malian musicians, at the RNCM, Feb 26th, 2015!