Acclaimed Malian musician Kassé Mady Diabaté has died aged 69.
He was the descendant of a distinguished griot family, who are considered musical royalty in Mali.
According to the online magazine Rhythm Passport, his nickname Kassé derived from the Bambara word “kassi”, meaning to weep, as his beautiful voice was said to make people cry with joy.
He told Rhythm Passport in 2015 about the importance of being a griot – West Africa’s hereditary praise-singers, story tellers and musicians.
Journalist Jon Lusk wrote for the BBC in 2002 that Kassé Mady’s career took off in the early 1970s when he began singing with Super Mande, one of many West African bands that benefited from government patronage.
Later he was head hunted by Las Maravillas de Mali, a group which had just returned from eight years in Cuba.
In the 1980s he tried his luck in Paris, but things did not work out and he returned to Mali in 1998, where there was a resurgence of interest in traditional acoustic music.
He was well known for his collaborations, including with Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabaté on the album Kulanjan, which according to his own website, was cited by Barack Obama as one of former US president’s favourite albums of all time.
Watch some clips of him in performance a few years ago: