Lassana Diabate in Cape Breton on February 2017

Fodé Lassana Diabaté is a virtuoso balafon player who comes from Guinea, where the balafon originates. The balafon as an instrument played by griotsdates back at least to the 13th Century. Lassana began playing balafon at the age of five at home in Conakry with his father, Djelisory Diabaté, a master balafon player, from Kindia. Lassana makes his own balafons out of the finest rosewood from Guinea’s forests, and cultivates a round, resonant tone, earning the reputation from an early age amongst his peers of having ‘sweet hands’.

Lassana settled in Mali in the late 1980s after being invited to join the band of the diva Ami Koita, and has since recorded with many of Mali’s top artists such as Toumani Diabaté, Salif Keita, Babani Koné, Tiken Jah Fakoly, and Bassekou Kouyaté. He has collaborated with Taj Mahal and participated in Bela Fleck’s Grammy-winning Throw Down Your Heart project; with several world-class artists including American bluesman Taj Mahal and jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgwater.  He is also a member of the Grammy-nominated Mali-Cuba collaboration, Afrocubism.

Itinerary for Lassana’s Visit (Updated Thursday, Feb 17th at 8:15 am)

Wednesday, Feb 22nd at 1 pm – Lassana will perform to introduce and close the CBU Library presentation “Viola Desmond’s Canada” with Wanda Robson and Dr. Graham Reynolds. Find more information about this event HERE. If you are unable to attend in person, you can join us via livestream at this link:


Thursday, Feb 23rd (daytime) – Lassana will work with Cape Breton youth in a workshop, “Intercultural Performance Laboratory” at the Centre for Sound Communities Studio.


Thursday, Feb 23rd at 4 pm – Lassana will provide a music educator’s workshop at the Centre for Sound Communities Studio! Please bring any instruments such as wooden xylophones and mallets (for you and other workshop participants).


Friday, Feb 24th at 5 pm – Lassana will engage in intercultural music-making with local musicians, as a means of “Celebrating African Musical Traditions!” Join us for this special event in honour of African Heritage Month. (Livestreaming may be available – stay tuned!)


Sunday, Feb 26th at 2 pm – Lassana will perform in a house concert! Join him and local community members at A Paradise Found Bed & Breakfast (62 Milton Street, Sydney NS), and enjoy a chance to meet and chat with this extraordinary musician. $20 at the door; all proceeds go to the musician.


Tuesday, Feb 28th at 7 pm– Lassana will be presenting The Sunjata Story: Glimpses of a Mande Epic – the first in a series of films as part of the Global Musics – Local Connections FILM FESTIVAL at the Cape Breton Regional Public Library, McConnell Branch!


This series of intercultural learning events is a partnership with Global Musics – Local Connections and the Centre for Sound Communities at Cape Breton University.


For more information about Lassana and his Cape Breton visit and events, please visit write us at or call Dr. Marcia Ostashewski at (Mobile) (780) 264-7624!



An excellent page with sound files, supported by Kronos Quartet:
On the Singing Storytellers project page, including a short video:
Some information about Afrocubism:
More on Afrocubism, directly referring to Lassana, the “balafon virtuoso”: