Toumani Diabate invites fellow Griot Jali Fily Cissokho to the stage to celebrate Jali Fily's Birthday and sing praise to Toumani's family guests.

It was no surprise to see these two Griots, the great master kora player Toumani Diabate and up and coming Jali Fily Cissokho performing a beautiful traditional piece together as if they had known each other for a long time. Both can their roots back to 13th century Mali where the Griots entertained and advised the Kings of the great Mali Empire.

This unrehearsed performance touched the audience. Toumani's beautiful melodies flowed effortlessly from his kora, Jali Fily responding with his sweet voice. Toumani smiled as in true Griot style Jali fily sang praise to him and his visiting family seated in the audience.


Jali Fily has been inspired by Toumani's music from an early age. He would listen to his cassettes in his house in Ziguinchor, Senegal. "This man, I just love his music, I have to meet him one day. I don't know how I can ever manage it" He never imagined that one day he would meet and perform on stage with him here in England.

They first met a few years ago at The Barbican in London. "Ah Fily Cissokho, I've been listening to your voice on your family CD Jalikunda. I love your track Jarou". " I've also been listening to your music since I was a young boy Grand" Fily replied. (Grand is used as respect for your elder). "You played with my late uncle Pa Messin. He showed me your photo. You've been my inspiration for a long, long time" said Jali Fily. Toumani replied: "I'll be back for WOMAD - let's meet up."

Jali Fily first performed with Toumani and his Symmetric Orchestra at WOMAD and one year on they met again at Glastonbury where Toumani again invited Jali Fily to the stage to sing with Baaba Maal. On a previous meeting Toumani had told me: "Christine I just love Fily's voice. When he sings it's as if he is singing my kora back to me. He understands my music because he is also a Griot and plays the kora". I explained how difficult it is to promote Fily independently here in England without funding or record company backing. "Don't worry Christine I'll be back - lets see what we can do". And back he came, inviting Jali Fily to sing at the RNCM.

This extraordinary man continues to support Jali Fily whenever he visits England. God bless him.

Christine Lord - May 14th 2008