The Koulé Star, orchestra of the cercle of Koutiala, was founded in 1958. They never rose above the level of local fame, until in 1976 they managed to convince Abdoulaye Diabaté to join them as a singer.
Abdoulaye Diabaté is originally from Zinzana, a village not far from Ségou. His father, Baba, was a 'furuboloma', a griot who acts as a marriage intermediary and organiser, and his mother Assitan Dembélé, a well-known singer in the Bambara tradition. Although Abdoulaye started singing as a young boy of eight, he was hesitant to choose singing as a career, and instead preferred to finish his studies to become an accountant.
Having completed a two-year study in Bamako, he travels to Koutiala in 1972 to start a job as an accountant. Caught by rain and thunder on his arrival, an older lady, Mamou Diallo, offers the tired traveller shelter and food. As she is the jatigi (host), she claims Abdoulaye (being a Diabaté - i.e. from a griot family) as her griot. Abdoulaye agrees to this. As her griot he subsequently studies the lineage of Peul families (Diallo is one of the Peul families). But his main occupation remains the job as an accountant.
He doesn't perform in public, until Mamou Diallo asks him to compete in a competition between quartiers. He contributes five songs, and his quartier wins the competition.
A year later, in 1976, the lead vocalist of the local orchestra, the Koulé Star, doesn't show up at a concert, and Diabaté is persuaded to join them, - initially for one concert, but after the huge success of that performance, and after consulting his employer ànd Mamou Diallo, as a permanent member.
In a future post I will focus on Abdoulaye's association with the regional orchestra of Sikasso.
But for now, here is a cassette which the Koulé Star released in the 1980s. I bought it in 1988, but I am sure the recordings were made earlier.
Unfortunately, as with the cassette I posted earlier, the quality is rather poor. This is not due to the cassette itself, but to the recording. The cassette has been recently re-released in Mali and this re-release has the same flaw as the earlier version.
The music itself is, however, brilliant and the cassette is one of the many classics of Malian music.
Additionally, here is video clip of Abdoulaye Diabaté singing/playbacking the track "Mamou Diallo". This video was recorded at least a decade after the cassette, probably in Koutiala. The sound quality is remarkably good; and I like the dancing.....