Originally from Bamako, Mali, Sory Diabate comes from a long line of Djelis (griots). Diabate began drumming in the early eighties, as an apprentice with Sidiki Camara, who now works with renowned drummer Mamady Keita. 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 United States he conducted percussion workshops for students visiting Mali from all corners of the world.
In the U.S, Diabate has performed 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, Bunker Hill Community College, Cambridge School of Weston, the Cambridge YWCA and YMCA, the Cambridge River Festival, Cambridge Carnival and parades and festivals all over New England. Diabate is the founder and Director of Benkadi Drum & Dance. He currently teaches West Africn drumming at Studio@550 in Cambridge.