Harboured Sounds

Amadou Diagne

Amadou says

I was born in Dakar, Senegal on the West Coast of Africa. I come from a family of Griot Musicians, Griot are hereditary praise singers and musicians of West Africa who pass their knowledge down from one generation to another in the family. They usually specialize in that family with a particular instrument, such as the Kora or the Tama ( talking drum) or as in my family’s case the Sabar drums, Djembe. Griot are traditionally paid to perform at weddings, naming ceremonies, all kinds of celebrations. I started to play drums at about four years old, my mother bought me a drum even though my father who had become very religious did not want me to become a musician like other members of my family.

I played for parties, dancers through my childhood and teenage years and after delivering some uniforms to the barracks in Dakar I was spotted playing drums and was asked to become a member of the Asfar military Band, which they paid me to play in even though I was not in the army. This led to becoming a member of L’Orchestra national du Senegal as a full time professional percussionist when I was in my 20’s, playing regularly on TV and for events and festivals.

At Goree festival I played percussion for Jimmy Cliff, and Youssou N’dour amongst many other artists, and at a festival on Cape Verde I was invited to play percussion with Cessaria Evora and her band (she asked me to join her band but I had to decline at that time). It was like a university for me, I was learning every day from much older professional musicians who knew so much and loved to pass on their knowledge and skills to a young man eager to learn. I became a busy session musician around Dakar, always in a taxi from one gig to another, it is a very lively place for music.

Now I live in England with my wife and our daughter I like the fact that I have a lot more time to concentrate on my own music, I would not have the time in Senegal! I enjoy meeting and playing with musicians from different places, England is very good for that, it is making my style change, as I try new things. My music a mix of my life, the traditional, the wide knowledge of styles and rhythms the Orchestre Senegal gave me,  the music I have experienced playing outside of Senegal, it is very much my own I think as I feel my way in what I do. When I came to England I started to write my own songs and sing them, I could not find a guitarist who understood what I wanted in my music so I learnt to play guitar. I love the melodic and percussive qualities of the guitar, I love improvising seeing where I can go with it.

“It was such an enjoyable afternoon in Bristol Harbour being filmed for this project, such friendly, professional people who have a real passion for music and want to share that. I was so happy to take part, and I am sure that the Harboured Sounds project is going to be something very interesting and positive for music in Bristol, the surrounding areas and the World. It has got to be something good for music, as it will help to show the real diversity of what people are doing and hopefully engage an audience who want to explore new music and open their ears and their eyes and come to the gigs! Amadou Diagne


My musical influences are many, Blues, Jazz, Funk, Rock and Traditional. I love to listen to Salif Kieta, his voice is like no other. Toumani Diabate is a very special Kora player I listen to a lot, my guitar style owes a lot to kora style as I have played percussion with many Kora players and know the feeling for it very well. Ali Farka Toure as I love Malian music, Oumou Sangare for such beautiful way with singing, Rokia Traore as she is doing such exciting things with her music and we listen to her last CD ‘ Beautiful Africa ‘a lot. Delta blues, Lead Belly.  I watch and listen a lot on YouTube such as Jimmy Hendrix who played with so much freedom, I like that a feeling of freedom in my music like anything is possible.

The music I make is what I am, the music I make and I are the same, no choices really. The time I take it out in to the world record it and play gigs, try to make a career that is the choice.

I have been doing some rural touring up and down the country, I played some festivals this summer including a great gig at the Purbeck folk fest with my full band, we had the whole tent up and jumping, it was a big marque too so it was a lot of people all getting into our music, I like it when we get to play a big stage, plenty of room for me to get into the music and dance too! I played solo at the LIFEM ( London International Festival of Exploratory Music) Festival in London at Kings Place recently supporting Amira Kheir from Sudan, Amazing Venue, huge and great sound. My band and I did a recent gig at The Bell in Bath which was the first gig for my new band line up and I am really excited about where the music is going, we had some great feedback from the audience including some lovely messages from people to our FB page.  One of them told us we are the best band they had seen for ten years! Things are going well, I am looking forward to what next year brings and the year after…..

 I play kit Drums for Rozaya Hopkins band, a great singer from Bristol. I love to get a chance to play Kit! I also play Kit drums and percussion from time to time for Griot kora player and singer Jally Filly Cissokho and his band, and sometimes Djembe for Diabel Cissokho who is also a great Kora player. I play percussion for The Seznec Bros when Cory is over from Adis Ababa or France and they get a tour together here, we have had some good times touring around scotland and England. I sometimes dep Djembe or Kit for the Batch Guaye Band too.

Honey-smoked vocals …Plaintive, acoustic and brimming with an unhurried assurance.’ Jamie Renton, fROOTS Magazine  

‘a burgeoning talent Folk Roots Magazine

‘his musical landscape is unmistakably that of Senegal: gentle, breathy melodies over guitar rhythms that hint at restrained mbalax’ Financial Times

a percussionist of great sensitivity and skill’ Glyn Phillips of worldmusic

‘The Introducing series had previously unearthed talented African artists such as Etran Finatawa or Daby Balde. Amadou Diagne follows this fine tradition – another thumbs up for the World Music Network.’ Nicolas Roux

  See more about Amadou on his website



see his session by clicking on the maplogo-HS icon or go to videos!