MusicDish e-Journal - December 11, 2019
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Yaya Diallo
Archive of Articles

Musician - Healer - Composer
Dancer - Teacher of Music & Dance
Lecturer - Storyteller - Author
Guide to Mali, West Africa

Yaya Diallo was born in 1946 in the village of Fienso, Republic of Mali, to a Peulh father and a Minianka mother. Yaya was raised in a culture that works, worships, lives and breathes to the beat of the drum. Thanks to his mother, being from the illustrious Berthè family of hunters, county chiefs, musicians …, young Yaya had the opportunity to hear some of the best musicians of the former canton Zangasso. The old musician, healer and sorcerer Nangapè Koné became his protector and mentor.

Arriving in Montreal, Canada, in 1967, Yaya graduated from the University of Montreal in Chemistry in 1973. Following a brief career as a chemist, Yaya returned to traditional African music. He was a co-founder of the music and dance groups Djembe-Kan and Cléba and a member of the African Troubadours with the World Music Institute. A former faculty member of the Creative Music Studio, Woodstock, NY, and the Omega Institute, NY, Yaya Diallo currently teaches music and dance at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY.

Yaya Diallo performs solo, accompanied and with his band Kanza. Once or twice a year Yaya organizes and leads the “Healing Drum Tours” to Mali, West Africa. His classic album Nangapè, recorded in Canada and released in 1980 on Onzou Records, brought international recognition to his work. Yaya Diallo, known for his traditional music, shifts to the popular KANZA genre on his most recent album Live at Club Soda. KANZA, a fusion of traditional and popular music, is a relatively new form created to foster interest amongst the youth in traditional music as a means of transmitting the culture.


1980 - Nangapè - Onzou Records
1982 - Senghor - CBC cinema studio recording
1990 - The Healing Drum: African Ceremonial and Ritual Music
1995 - Dounoukan - African drum music
1998 - Dombaa Folee: Minianka Medicine Music of Mali - Published by The Relaxation Company
2002 - Nangapè - Reissued, Onzou Records
2003 - Live at Club Soda - Onzou Records


1985 - "At the Threshold of the African Soul: The Fulani-Minianka Way, A Village Voice," - A Journal published by the Intercultural Center of Montreal
1989 - "The Healing Drum: African Wisdom Teachings" - Published by Destiny Books
2001 - Reprint journal "At the Threshold of the African Soul"

Workshops and Performances

Yaya Diallo’s invitations to perform and conduct workshops internationally include North America (USA, Canada), Europe (England, France, Belgium, Holland), Asia (Japan, Singapore), English and French West Indies (Paradise Island, Martinique, Guadaloupe), Africa (Ivoiry Coast, Mali).

Yaya Diallo’s West African music represents an important milestone culturally and historically. The value of Yaya Diallo’s music goes beyond pleasing the crowds or documenting what was. This is a time of transition … a time to protect and maintain a culture and the knowledge it contains.

The personage of Yaya Diallo is rare in that it brings together the music and culture from personal experience in traditional African village life with the Western experience of graduating as a chemist at the University of Montreal and working as an ethnic researcher for the Intercultural Institute of Montreal.

As a musician, dancer, healer, teacher, lecturer, storyteller, author and guide to Mali Yaya Diallo expresses himself both from his heart and intellectually. His message, at once serious and entertaining, is delivered with a showmanship that stimulates one to consider the circumstances affecting our lives. Through song, books and short articles Yaya Diallo offers insights into a variety of subjects from a broad social perspective to domestic issues.

Music is as much the foundation of Yaya Diallo’s work as it is for the traditional African lifestyle. Goals include the creation of traditional African healing centers beginning with one in Bamako, Mali as a means of transmitting the culture to future generations.

Yaya Diallo, a native of Mali, West Africa, teaches at the University of Bellarmine in Louisville, KY. His music albums range from the traditional to the new KANZA genre combining the traditional with popular music. To date, two books are available, “The Healing Drum” translated in English and Japanese, available through booksellers, and “At the Threshold of the African Soul” published by the Intercultural Institute of Montreal.

Further information and articles are available at,

CBC’s New Music Canada web site hosts Yaya Diallo’s music available through Onzou Records at

Contact: Stephen Conroy
Onzou Records
Tel: (250) 383-2403

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