African Master Drummers

Here is a list of some of the greatest African Drummers from West Africa who have touched our soul in a positive way!

West African Master Drummer - Bolokada Conde
Bolokada Conde has made a huge name for himself in African drumming by mastering the traditional rhythms of the Malinke group and by showcasing all of them to the rest of the planet. African drum mastery in itself is no small achievement: The Malinke use many different percussion instruments that play separate parts and blend into one rhythm. Every rhythm has a different history, origin and use. Some sections may be performed at weddings, while others may be for a war dance or welcoming young boys into manhood. Bolokada was widely recognized as a prodigy at a very young age and became a sensation in the Sankaran region of Guinea. He was awarded the title of master folklorist and was sought out to play the djembe at all the major village celebrations in his area.

West African Master Drummer - Mustapha Tettey Addy
Mustapha Tettey Addy was born into a family of drummers in 1942 and grew up in Avenor, a village of the Ga tribe in Ghana.The Ga traditional African drumming is probably the most complicated in all of Ghana. Mustapha learned these rhythms, songs and tribal dances from his father and brothers at a young age. He further deepened his knowledge of traditional African music at the University of Ghana and on world tours with Ghana's National Dance Ensemble. However, it takes more than just a college degree to become a Master Drummer. In fact, the title "Master Drummer" doesn't really exist in the Ga language. A more suitable translation of the African word would be "God's Drummer". Mustapha formed several traditional groups in Ghana and abroad. He spent many years teaching in Europe and the U.S. Since the 1980s, drum students from around the world can visit Mustapha in Ghana. Learning from a real Master Drummer in the traditional environment is an experience that no drumcircle or workshop in your country could ever replace.

West African Master Drummer - Mamady Keita
Often called the "Master of Masters", Mamady Keita was born in 1950 in the small village of Balandougou, Guinea, West Africa and has become one of the few Master djembe players in the world. Keita was chosen out of 550 artists to work under the direction of actor and activist Harry Belafonte and President Sekou Touré at Guinea's National Ballet and then went on to become the Artistic Director of the Ballet National Djoliba.Keita has won many gold medals from the International and Pan African Festivals. He joined Souleymane Koli’s group, “Koteba” to perform next to African artists such as Touré Kunda of Senegal and Mory Kante of Guinea. He started his own group in ’88 called “Sewa Kan” (the sound of joy).Keita founded Tam Tam Mandingue in 1991 in Brussels, Belgium (“Drums of the Mandingue”), school for percussion, of which there are more than 15 branches now, in Europe, Japan, Israel, Singapore, Guinea and the US.

West African Master Drummer - Okyerema Asante
Okyerema Asante is a master drummer from Ghana, famous for performing all the parts of a traditional 5-person drum group by himself. Asante attaches percussion instruments to various parts of his body and simultaneously plays the drums, a balafon, and many other traditional instruments. He has as many as 85 instruments in a single performance. Coming from a family of drummers, Asante is an expert of traditional Ghanaian talking drums.Asante is also known for playing with Mr. Paul Simon on his Graceland album.
West African Master Drummer - Manimou Camara
(born July 1978, Matam, Conakry Region, Guinea) is a master African drummer and also a dancer from the West African nation of Guinea. Manimou specializes in many percussion instruments, namely the  Djembe Drum and Djun Djun Drums (3 bass drums called the dunun, sangban, and kenkeni) as well as the kringni. He is the founder of Dounia Djembe, a Seattle, Washington based percussion and dance company. He is a member of the Kpelle people and Malinke ethnic groups. Camara began studying the traditional music and dance of his native Guinea, West Africa at the age of 12. His primary education was spent with Sekou Dico Sylla (now a Vancouver, British Columbia resident), Karamoko Daman (Karamo Dama) and nationally recognized Ballet Saamato.

West African Master Drummer - Soungalo Coulibaly
Coulibaly was raised up in the purest Bambara tradition. His father was leader of the village of Béléko (about 100 kilometres from Ségou, in the Baninko region of southern Mali). Like most traditional African drummers, he recieved his first musical experience at a very early age by accompanying work in the fields and playing at village celebrations on the bara and the sabani. He left Béléko for Fana, then for Côte d'Ivoire, and taught himself to play the djembe, seizing every opportunity to accompany the djembefola he met at celebrations, and adopting their music. When he relocated to Bouaké, Côte d'Ivoire, in the mid 1970s, he immediately garnered a name for himself through his remarkable musicality and his keen ability to adapt to all sorts of different styles.

West African Master Drummer - Yamadu Bani Dunbia
Yamadu Bani Dunbia was a most notable djembe master drummer from Bamako, Mali. Although audio recordings of his playing are scarce, he was still extremely well known across Bamako. He recorded his very first songs at the age of 78. Dunbia was born in 1917 in west Mali and served in the French colonial army during World War II. After the war he found himself in the Malian capital Bamako. After the Malian independence in the 1960's, the celebration culture in Bamako boomed, and Dunbia became a well known performer, retaining his reputation until 2002 when he died. His first recordings were made in 1995 when he was 78. The recordings were made in a school yard in Bamako without rehearsals, notation or similar and in a single shot. Yet the music recorded is of significant importance to students of West African music.

West African Master Drummer - Famoudou Konaté
Famoudou Konaté is a Malinké master drummer from Guinea. Famoudou Konaté is a world-renowned virtuoso of the djembe drum and its orchestra. One of only a handful of initiated masters of the Malinké drumming tradition, Famoudou is universally respected as one of the world’s premiere djembe master drummers. 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 near Sangbaralla, a village in the Hamana region of Upper Guinea, the Malinké heartland and the birthplace of the dundunba family of rhythms.

West African Master Drummer - Dramane Koné
Dramane Koné from Ougadougou, Burkina Faso is a famous master drummer and Griot (West African Historian) from the west African nation of Burkina Faso who rose to great prominence in 1997 via his appearance (studying balafon at age 4) in the award-winning Taali Laafi Rosselini epic (20 years in the making) documentary film Great Great Grandparents Music that featured vignettes of Dramane Koné's griot family life in west Africa. He specializes in the goblet-shaped hand drum called djembe. He is a member of the Dioula ethnic group. Dramane began studying music at the age of 3 (his family says almost from birth), under Dougoutigui Koné, elder djembefola (master djembe player) of Ouagadougou. Koné was educated in the ancient drumming traditions of west Africa, and was initiated into the history and music of the Manding (also spelled Mandingue) people.

West African Master Drummer - Mamady "Wadaba" Kourouma
Wadaba was born into a blacksmithing family of traditional Malinke drummers and raised in the small village of Oroko near Kouroussa, Guinea, West Africa. He was taught from the age of eight all of his people's traditional drum music and dances as passed down from his ancestors. He was called "The Great Panther" because of his powerful sound on the djembe drum. In 1993 he became the primary apprentice of the legendary djembe master Famoudou Konaté. Since then he has toured in Germany, Japan, and the U.S., teaching and performing with Konaté and Mamady Keïta, and with his own group, Annye Ben.  Kourouma’s nickname, “Wadaba”, means Great Panther, and comes from the people of his motherland, who say his sound on the djembe drum has the power of a wild cat’s scream.

West African Master Drummer - Babatunde Olatunji
Babatunde Olatunji (April 7, 1927 – April 6, 2003) was a Nigerian drummer, teacher, social activist, and recording artist. Olatunji was born in the tiny village of Ajido, an area near Badagry, Lagos State, in southwestern Nigeria. A member of the Yoruba people, Olatunji was introduced to traditional African music at an early age. He read in Reader's Digest magazine about the Rotary International Foundation's scholarship program, and applied for it. He went to the United States of America in 1950.Olatunji was also a music educator, and invented a method of teaching and recording drum patterns which he called the "Gun-Dun, Go-Do, Pa-Ta" method after the different sounds made on the drum.

West African Master Drummer - Sikiru Adepoju
Sikiru Adepoju(Born on November 10, 1950) is a percussionist and recording artist from Nigeria, primarily in the genres of traditional African music and world music. He plays a variety of instruments and styles. A master of the talking drum, Adepoju hails from a musical family from Eruwa in western Nigeria. He and his brothers Saminu and Lasisi were both taught drumming very early on by their father, Chief Ayanleke Adepoju, whose very name, Ayan, translates to "descended from drummers." While still in his teens, Sikiru toured with and recorded many albums with the Inter-Reformers Band, the band of one of the pioneers of Afro-beat, Nigerian Juju artist Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey.

The Djembe Drum is a powerful instrument when played from the heart! When you play, you feel something ancient and from deep inside your body.  The drum brings out in us all supernatural power which penetrates the body and touches our soul and wakes our spirit! You see, a drum beat is the same as a heartbeat. They share the same primordial pulse, so that way when we hear the spirit of the drum sound, we respond immediately!  We always respond in positive ways!

Play From The Heart