Malian kora musician, Mamadou Diabate is a member of the Mandinka West African jeli (musician caste) family. As the name Diabate indicates, Mamadou comes from a family of griots, or jelis as they are known among the Manding. Jelis are more than just traditional musicians. They use music and sometimes oratory to preserve and sustain people's consciousness of the past, a past that stretches back to the 13th century when the Manding king Sunjata Keita consolidated the vast Empire of Mali, covering much of West Africa. His musical lineage goes back seven centuries to the time of Sunjata Keita, the conqueror of the Malian empire. Now based in the United States, Mamadou performs around North America and Europe. Interested in bringing the kora to new audiences, he has played with jazz and other contemporary artists, however he remains rooted in the traditions of the Manding kora and his griot heritage. He is one of a handful remaining kora players that are keeping alive the kora tradition. To hear to Mamadou in performance, is to experience the beauty of the kora.