top of page

Music and culture from Mali, West Africa.

Jeli  (griots and Griottes)


The jeli are the group of historian, musician, singer, orators, responsible for preserving the historical events and family lineages of their respective groups. Although many ethnic groups have a similar role, the Maninka Jeli are the most well-known around the globe, their musical styles driving the popular success of west African music over the last 30 years.

Bala or Balafon

This slat idiophone uses small gourds to resonate and amplify the sound. Many ethnic groups play their own version of the bala, the Maninka griots playing the heptatonic form. Keletigui Diabate, one of the most famous players, revolutionized the instrument, playing a two-tier chromatic version.


The kora is a 21-string lute-harp. The beautiful sound of this instrument combines the soothing sound of a harp with the dance qualities of the west African rhythms. The most famous players, Toumani Diabate and his brother Mamadou, have both won world music Grammys.

Jeli N'goni

A spike lute, this 4-string instrument is played across west Africa. Mali's most famous n'goni player, Bassekou Kouyate plays on a seven-string instrument and has been nominated for the world music Grammy.

bottom of page