Originally from Bamako, Mali, Sory Diabate comes from a long line of Djelis (griots) and began drumming in the early eighties, as an apprentice with Sidiki Camara. In Mali, Diabate was a member of Troupe Pionna, and a principal drummer with Troupe Doumba, Troupe Districte de Bamako, and Troupe Sewa. In 1997, he became Assistant Director of Troupe Sewa and traveled extensively throughout Mali, researching in depth the origins of traditional rhythms and dances whose authenticity is preserved in the smaller villages. In addition to the djembe and dun dun, Diabate plays the tama, or talking drum, the bara and the bondiala. Prior to coming to the U.S., he conducted percussion workshops for students visiting Mali from all corners of the world.
Diabate has performed nationally with Sambalolo, Group Badenya, Timinadi, Under the Sun Dance & Drum, Spirit of Africa, and Troupe Sewa directed by Joh Camara. He has taught workshops in North Carolina, at West Virginia University, Brown University, and SUNY Purchase and has performed at the Wang Center for Performing Arts, The Dance Complex, Harvard, MIT, Wellesley College, among others. Diabate is also the founder and Director of Benkadi Drum & Dance and teaches West Africn drumming at Studio@550 in Cambridge.