African Virtuosos

The African Virtuosos consist of three brothers from one of African music's most influential families. Abdoulaye, Sire, and Sékou Diabaté come from a long line of griots, or troubadours, storytellers, and kora players. Though the brothers' mastery of the kora (a guitar-like instrument of African decent) was expected, theirs was the first generation to transfer that skill and musical ability to the guitar. The trio's older brother, Papa Diabaté, is widely credited with popularizing the electric guitar throughout their native Guinea. Thanks to Papa's work, the electric guitar emerged as African pop music's leading voice through the 1960s and '70s. Though there would be many to follow, the Diabaté brothers were among the very first to use to guitar to interpret and express their rich musical heritage. The brothers were first recorded through the late '70s and early '80s, releasing their debut record as a trio in 1983. The Classic Guinean Guitar Group featured Abdoulaye, Sire, and Sékou accompanied by a host of traditional instruments, performing rearrangements of popular songs of the day, including pop and folk repertoire. Though popular throughout the region at the time, the record did not gain widespread notoriety until its release nearly 25 years later by world music label Stern's Africa. The brothers' follow-up release, Nanibali, Balade Sur la Lagune, experienced similar success thanks to an international release date years after its regional release. The African Virtuosos were brought earned international renown in 2007 when their debut disc was released and promoted across Europe. The Classic Guinean Guitar Group spent several months at the top of World Music Charts Europe, catching the eye of world music and jazz audiences worldwide. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez

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