Mamady Keïta (surname sometimes also spelled Keita; b. Balandugu, Siguiri Prefecture, Kankan Region, Guinea, August 1950) is a Master drummer from the West African nation of Guinea. He specializes in the goblet-shaped hand drum called Djembe and is considered one of the world's foremost performers of this instrument. He is also the founder of the Tam Tam Mandingue school of drumming. He is a member of the Manding ethnic group.
Keïta was born in the small village of Balandugu (sometimes spelled Balandougou), Guinea, in the northeastern prefecture of Siguiri Prefecture, near the border of Mali. His initiation to the djembe started at the early age of seven, under Karinkadjan Kondé, elder djembefola (master djembe player) of Balandugu, who showed him all the secrets of the djembe. Keïta was educated in the traditions of his village, and initiated into the history and music of the Manding (also spelled Mandingue) people. At the age of twelve, he became a member of the first regional federal ballet of Siguiri after Balanka Sidiki, a recruiter for the group, came to Balandugu looking for performers.
During the time, Guinea was governed by Sékou Touré, who put special emphasis on Guinean culture through live performances and a system of local, regional, and national competitions that recruited the greatest artists of the land. During the National Festival in 1964, Keïta, then aged fourteen, along with fifty other percussionists and numerous other artists, was selected by Guinea's Minister of Culture to form Le Ballet National Djoliba (The Djoliba National Ballet), which was intended to serve as a showcase for Touré's revolution in Guinea. After nine months of training, he was one of only five percussionists retained.
In 1964 Keïta left Balandugu to become a member of the Djoliba Ballet, in which he served as lead drummer and soloist until 1979. The group practiced in a special stage constructed for this purpose at the residence of Sékou Touré. In 1979, Keïta became the artistic director of the troupe, a position he held until 1986. During his time, he went on numerous tours throughout the world, performing in West, Central, and East Africa, China, Egypt, Germany, Scandinavia, France, Switzerland, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union.
In 1986, wishing to leave the cocoon formed by the ballet and become a more independent musician, Keïta joined Souleymane Koli's troupe, Koteba, in Abidjan, and he stayed with it for a year and a half.
In 1991, Keïta decided it was time to go his own way and he established his own percussion school which he called Tam Tam Mandingue, literally "drums of the Manding." The school rapidly acquired international renown and opened branches in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan, and the United States. In Belgium alone, the school has over 300 students from the beginner to the professional levels.
- 1989 - Wassolon
- 1992 - Nankama
- 1995 - Mögöbalu
- 1996 - Hamanah
- 1998 - Afö
- 2000 - Balandugu Kan
- 2001 - Mamady Lèè
- 2002 - A Giatè
- 2004 - Djembe Master
- 2004 - Sila Laka
- 2007 - Mandeng Djara
- 1964 - Africa Dance (with Harry Belafonte).
- 1991 - Djembefola. Directed by Laurent Chevalier.
- 2003 - Djembe Kan (2003). Directed by Monette Marino. Publisher: Tam Tam Mandingue USA.
- 2005 - Mamady Keïta and Sewa Kan: Live @ Couleur Café. Publisher: Fenix Music