He comes from a family of griots and uses balafon, kora and guitar to tell his stories – in compositions combining styles from afrobeat and Cape Verdean morna all the way to jazz and blues.
While most griots of the Diabaté family – including the famous Toumani – reside in Mali, Kimi Djabaté’s ancestors migrated generations ago to the region that today is Guinea-Bissau. In recompense for their art, they were granted the right to settle in the area of Tabatô, where Kimi was born in 1975. He learned to play the family instrument, the balafon, as a boy, and immediately had to begin contributing to his family’s livelihood. His move to Portugal was the young musician’s greatest challenge. In addition to the balafon, he mastered the kora and the guitar – and of course the songs of his forefathers. In his music, he combines these with the influences in his own life, from afrobeat to Cape Verdean morna, to jazz and blues.