Yaya Diallo, born in 1946 in the rural village of Fienso in Mali (then called the French Sudan) plays the traditional Minianka instruments of his people, the djembe (vase-shaped hand drum hollowed out from the trunk of a tree and traditionally covered with goat skin) and the balafon (a wooden xylophone with gourd resonators).
Influenced greatly by his maternal grandmother (a musician and the chief of a neighboring village) and mentor, seer, and musician, Nangape Kone, Diallo combined drumming with spirituality continuing a Minianka tradition where music is the sacred healing vessel of the community. In fact, in 1980 Diallo named his first recording after his mentor, Nangape.
Diallo won a scholarship from his government and he began his advanced studies in 1967 at the University of
Montreal in Canada. He graduated with a B.S. degree in chemistry, working for just a few years in that field.
The call of the drum beat too loudly in his soul and after a while Diallo felt increasingly alienated from his
Today Diallo continues to live in the Montreal area, making his living as a drum teacher and a performer.
He has written an excellent book: