Alpha Yaya Diallo

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Alpha Yaya Diallo
Alpha Yaya Diallo.jpg
Background information
Occupation(s)Musician, singer, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, balafon, djembe
Years active1980s–present
LabelsJericho Beach

Alpha Yaya Diallo is a Guinean-born Canadian guitarist, singer and songwriter.[1] He incorporates Guinea's rich musical tradition into his original compositions. Diallo has won two Juno Awards, shared a third, and was nominated another three times.[2]


Diallo was born in Conakry, the capital of Guinea.[1] When he was young, he followed his father, a doctor who was in demand all around the country; this exposed him to a wide variety of cultural experiences, both from the different ethnic groups within Guinea itself and from neighbouring countries.[3]

When Guinea gained its independence from France in 1958, its Marxist first president, Ahmed Sékou Touré, launched a cultural program aimed at the rediscovery and support of "Guinea's music, arts, dance and languages."[4] Diallo recalled that, "At the time every family had a member who was being trained in music."[5] He started playing percussion in school, but taught himself to play the guitar at an early age (either "probably six or seven"[5] or 12,[1][3] according to his inconsistent recollections). At the University of Conakry, he became the bandleader of the Sons of Rais and toured extensively with them throughout West Africa.[1] After graduation, he performed with Love Systems, Kaloum Star and Sorsornet Rhythm.[1]

Diallo moved to Europe in the mid-1980s, where he worked particularly with the Fatala group, which played traditional Guinean music and was associated with Peter Gabriel's music label.[1][3] After extensive touring, Diallo settled down in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1991.[1][3] In 1993, he released his solo first album, Nene, which was nominated for a Juno Award, as was his 1996 album Futur.[2] He won his first Juno, for The Message in 1999 in the "Best World Music Album" category, a second in 2002 (for The Journey) and shared a third in 2004 for the African Guitar Summit compilation.[2] He released Djama in 2005.[6] He won the Best World Artist-Solo at the inaugural Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2006.[7] He plays with Ghanaian guitarist Pa Joe Diallo, Adam Solomo and Mighty Popo in African Guitar Summit.[3][8] In addition to the guitar, he also plays the balafon and the djembe.[1] His backup band, since 1992, is called Baffing.[1]

He produced a film documentary entitled Best of Both Worlds, which was filmed in West Africa, Canada and France.[8]


  • 1993: Néné (Bafing Productions) – nominated for a Juno Award[2]
  • 1996: Futur (Bafing Productions) – nominated for a Juno Award[2]
  • 1998: The Message (Bafing Productions) – won the Juno Award for Best Global Album[2]
  • 2001: The Journey (Jericho Beach Music) – won the Juno Award for Best Global Album[2]
  • 2004: African Guitar Summit (CBC Recordings) collaboration – won the Juno Award in Best World Music Album category[9]
  • 2005: Djama (Jericho Beach Music) – nominated for a Juno Award[2]
  • 2010: Immé (Jericho Beach Music)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i O'Toole, Thomas; Baker, Janice E. (16 March 2005). Historical Dictionary of Guinea. Scarecrow Press. pp. 65–66. ISBN 9780810865457.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "The JUNO Awards: Alpha Yaya Diallo". Juno Awards.
  3. ^ a b c d e Dacks, David (27 June 2010). "Alpha Yaya Diallo". Exclaim!.
  4. ^ Camara, Mohamed Saliou; O'Toole, Thomas; Baker, Janice E. (7 November 2013). Historical Dictionary of Guinea. Scarecrow Press. p. 222. ISBN 9780810879690.
  5. ^ a b "Alpha Yaya Diallo: Musical Mixologist by Dave O Rama". BC Musician. 25 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Alpha Yaya Diallo". Festival International Nuits d'Afrique de Montréal. 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  7. ^ Greg Quill, "Signs of strength in roots music; Great Big Sea ushered in Maritime revival", Toronto Star, 5 January 2006.
  8. ^ a b Graham Rockingham (23 February 2006). "Diallo singing for his people in Africa". Retrieved 7 January 2012.[dead link]
  9. ^ "The JUNO Awards: World Music Album of the Year (2003-Present)". Juno Awards.

External links[edit]