Zoumana Diarra was born in Mali in a family of Griots: West African praise singers, musicians, poets and storytellers. He has been making music since the age of four, when he manufactured his own guitar from an empty can and fishing thread.
From early age on, he had to provide for himself and moved around West Africa from the age of twelve. He lived in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, learning to play traditional West African guitar styles from local Griots. He has an astounding knowledge of West African rhythms and melodies and plays several West African instruments.
When he was 17, he won the first prize of the "Biennale Artistique et Culturelle de la Jeunesse", an important contest for young and aspiring musicians from Mali and surrounding countries.
He went on to play with the legendary orchestra Railband du Bamako. In Africa, he further played with Super Biton de Segou, Super Djattta Band (met Zani Diabate), Super Rail Band, Alpha Blondy, and Salif Keita.
When he turned 18, he went on a world tour with Zani Diabate and moved to Paris. A few years later he moved to The Netherlands - where he now resides when he's not touring the globe. He started the band Benkadi and added more and more jazz influences to his guitar playing.
Besides being an extremely gifted guitarist, Zoumana also plays the kora, an African harp. He builds these traditional koras himself, but is a true innovator when it to the instrument, being the only one worldwide to play a 44-string kora. He also plays the ngoni, balafon, electic bass, and the kamele ngoni.
Zoumana has played in many crossover projects with the famous Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Jan Akkerman, Harry Sacksioni, Trijntje Oosterhuis, etc. He is also part of Jan Kuiper's project "The Five Great Guitars".
Zoumana has also been a member of the band of Habib Koite and was the guitar player of Acoustic Africa III, with the African singers Dobet Gnahore, Manou Gallo, and Kareyce Fotso.
Get Private Online Lessons with
Get personalized, 1-on-1 instruction from via TrueFire's patented private lessons platform and iOS app!