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Red Wing VIII Artist


Danny Knicely | Cheick Hamala Diabaté


Danny Knicely comes from a musical family steeped in a mountain music tradition for generations. He first learned music from his grandfather, A.O. Knicely, who played dances and social events in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia beginning in the 1930’s. Danny has won many awards for his mandolin, guitar, fiddle and flat-foot dance expertise. He has used his roots in Old-time and Bluegrass to explore various types of music including Swing, Jazz, Blues, Funk, Folk, Latin, Irish and other types of World Music. Danny has the chameleon-like ability to blend into almost any musical situation and has appeared with many artists who are well known in their genres. He has shared his music and collaborated with musicians in over a dozen countries spanning four continents, including U.S. State Department tours in Tunisia, Morocco, Russia and Cabo Verde.

Cheick Hamala Diabaté is recognized as one of the world’s masters of ngoni, a traditional Malian string instrument, and is a West African historian in the Griot tradition. Cheick Hamala is a sought-after performer, lecturer, storyteller, and choreographer throughout Africa, Europe, Asia and Canada, and began touring in the U.S. in 1995. He has performed at venues such as the Krannert Center, Smithsonian Institution and the Kennedy Center. A steward of the 800- year-old tradition of the Griot, the storytellers of West Africa, Cheick Hamala shares the oral history, music and song of his culture as it was passed on to him from birth by parent to child. At an early age, Cheick Hamala mastered the ngoni, an instrument that is ancestor to the banjo. He learned to play the guitar from his uncle, Djelimady Tounkara, and now plays banjo and several other instruments.


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