Ballaké Sissoko

One of the modern-day masters of his instrument, Ballaké Sissoko is a Malian kora player who found success as a recording artist, generally in collaboration with others, most notably fellow Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté. Born in 1968 in Mali and based in Paris, France, he is the son of Jelimady Sissoko, a master of the kora. Sissoko first made a name for himself as a recording artist in 1999 with co-billing on the Toumani Diabaté album New Ancient Strings. The following year, he released the solo-billed album Déli (2000), which features his wife, the vocalist Mama Draba, among other musicians. Subsequent albums include Diario Mali (2003), a collaboration with Italian contemporary classical pianist Ludovico Einaudi; Tomora (2005); 3MA (2008), a collaboration with Moroccan oud player Driss el Maloumi and Madgascan valiha player Rajery; and Chamber Music (2009), a collaboration with French celloist Vincent Ségal. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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