Fanta Damba

Fanta Damba is generally referred to as the Grande Vedette Malienne. Together with Mokontafe Sacko, she was among the first female griots reaching national and even international fame through radio and recordings. Born into a family of griots - both of her parents were musicians - she started a professional career in the Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali. Trained by the best griots of the country, she was already famous in Mali by the age of 16, and in 1975, she was the first jalimuso to perform as a solo singer in Europe (source: The African Music Encyclopedia).

Fanta Damba has been acknowledged to be an inspiring example for young Mory Kante, Youssou N'Dour or Rokia Traoré who would grow world stars decades later. As a griot, she mastered the important heritage of Malian history in music and storytelling. She was loved because of the emotion and sensitivity in her voice. In addition, her way of singing was influenced by the melodies and rhythms of the bambara of Segou, different from the malinké in West Mali, the home area of so many griots.

On her first album she was accompanied by Mady Tounkara, on later albums by kora player Batourou Sekou Kouyaté.

Fanta Damba
 Fanta Damba with Mady Tounkara (© M. Thuillier) 
Important note: there are two singers bearing the name of Fanta Damba, Fanta Damba Koroba or Fanta Damba No. 1, and Fanta Damba No. 2 (tchini). To give an illustration of the importance of both singers: the Palais des Congrès in Bamako, whose rooms are named after famous griots of Mali, has both a salle Fanta Damba N° 1 and a salle Fanta Damba N° 2. Little is known about Fanta Damba No. 2, except a superb live video from 1983 (, on which she performs the classic « Duga ». To my knowledge, all information on this page applies to Fanta Damba No. 1. If anyone can share any information on both Fanta Damba, this will be more than welcome.

Born: 1938 in Segou (Central Mali)
Style: mande, malinke, mandingo griot music, praise singing, bambara

Title Year Label Remarks
Fanta Damba du Mali Vol. 3 2002 Bolibana BIP332 CD
Fanta Damba du Mali Vol. 2 2002 Bolibana BIP331 CD
Fanta Damba du Mali Vol. 1 2002 Bolibana BIP330 CD
Fanta Damba 1985 Disques Esperance ESP 7518 LP, Reissue of album SP 1002
Fanta Damba 1983 Sacko Production SP 1002 LP
Fanta Damba 1982 Sacko Production SP 005 LP
Fanta Damba 1981 Sonodisc LP
Bahamadou Simogo 1980 Celluloid CEL 6637 LP
Sékou Semega 1977 Songhoï Records SON 8210 With Batourou Sekou Kouyate
Ousmane Camara 1975 Songhoï Records SON 8205 With Batourou Sekou Kouyate
Hamet 1975 Songhoï Records SON 8202 With Batourou Sekou Kouyate
La grande vedette malienne 1975 Songhoï Records SON 8201 With Batourou Sekou Kouyate
Première anthologie de la Musique malienne,
volume 6. La tradition épique
1971 Bärenreiter-Musicaphon BM 30 L 2506 LP
• The main body of the discography (1975-85) is based on the Radio Africa Discography of Malian vinyl recordings, compiled by Graeme Counsel [link...]
The African Music Encyclopedia (retrieved 2005)
Page added February 2005