Born into an illustrious lineage of griots, Djely Tapa is the daughter of the mythical griot and dancer Djely Bouya Diarra and of Kandia Kouyaté, one of Mali’s greatest singers. Originally from the region of Kayes, in western Mali, Djely Tapa has brought to the international stage the wise words and vocal art of the griots, emblematic figures of ancient and contemporary Malian society, whose origins date back to the Mandingo Empire of the 13th century.
“Masters of the word” and depositaries of oral knowledge, musicians and kora players -the 21-stringed harp, their favorite instrument-, the griots (djely, in Bambara) are above all historians. In their metaphor-filled stories, they recount the genealogies of the Empire’s nobles and the deeds of its warriors.
Based in Canada, Djely Tapa quickly integrated the local scene. Among her experiences, important collaborations, such as Robert Lépine, Zal Cissoko, Afrotronix, the circus Kalabanté Afrikana Soul Sister and Abdoulaye Koné. His encounters with experienced artists, for example with his compatriot Oumou Sangaré, the Mexican Claudia Martinez or the Quebecer Sylvie Desgroseillers, have suggested openings in terms of musical research and creation.
In February 2019, Djely Tapa released Barokan, her debut album. Reflecting her musical identity, this album is a resounding tribute to women and Africanness. With her high-pitched voice, incandescent delivery and elegant gestures, Djely Tapa is a racy vocalist. “Nothing is made to scratch the ear: everything here merges organically.” (La Presse – 2019). Her vertiginous flights of fancy fade into hushed whispers and leave the audience stunned, with a repertoire suspended between Sahelian, blues and electro atmospheres.
In May 2019, Djely Tapa was named Révélation Musique du Monde by Radio-Canada and her debut album Barokan on the Disques Nuits d’Afrique label was named “Best World Music Album” at the 2020 Junos.
More recently, her militant feminist single le Sais-tu? released in 2022 heralds a new opus scheduled for next year.