Mamadou Cissokho

Master Kora Player and Drummer

Mamadou is a virtuoso kora player and percussionist with a superb repertoire of rhythms fusing together traditional and modern beats. He plays a variety of West African instruments ranging from djembe, sabar, calabash and talking drum to his leading instrument –the 22 stringed kora (West African Harp).Mamadou (Modou) Cissokho is a member of the famous Cissokho family of Griot musicians and oral historians from the Cassamance region of Southern Senegal. 


Growing up in a Griot family, Mamadou was surrounded by music, especially the kora, from a very early age so it was inevitable that the traditions of the kora would be passed down to him. Modou was taught by his grandfather (Jali Kemo Cissokho) and began at the age of five. At fourteen he began learning the djembe and had soon mastered many other percussion instruments too. Modou is very proud of his heritage: he used to play classical traditional songs as passed down to him but soon realised his passion and talent lay in incorporating these pieces into his own compositions, creating a unique style of his own.


After mesmerising audiences at the 2002 Glastonbury Festival, he became a regular performer and teacher at both Womad Charlton Park and Drum camp. Mamadou has performed at many UK festivals such as Tribe of Doris, The Larmer Tree, Window of the World, Trowbridge Festival, as well as Bristol’s very own St Paul’s Carnival, Harbourside Festival, Ashton Court and St George’s where he astounded audiences with the sounds of his group Cassa Afro in July 2011. He also performed at the 2010 launch of Brighton’s Kora Festival.


Mamadou's talent as a solo artist, together with his desire to create new sounds, led him to create Cassa Afro, a group of fantastic musicians who blend an irresistible mix of beautiful harmonies with the gentle yet lively tones of the kora, bass guitar, calabash, djembe and heart-warming vibrant West African Fulla flute, uniting traditional and modern sounds that leave you invigorated and inspired!


Mamadou's music has been in demand from the global film industry. Commissioned by Warner Brothers, his djembe playing can be heard in the soundtrack of the blockbuster Blood Diamond, and at the request of Brian Elsley, his kora playing featured in two episodes of the teenage cult series Skins in 2008 and 2009.


Mamadou embodies his historical pedigree his dream being for his music to spread the universal language of peace, togetherness, love and understanding, across the globe.