Gbanworo Keita - djembe master

Gbanworo Keita was one of the biggest djembe masters in Guinea. Born in Faranah, he played in his communal troupe when he was noticed and selected to join the Federal Ballet of Conakry, in which he stayed until 1964, when he joined the Ballet National Djoliba.

At the time he shared the limelight with Famoudou Konate. He joined the Ballets Africains as first soloist. He founded the Percussions de Guinee ensemble with three of his peers from the Ballets Africains: Noumody Keita, Laurent Camara and Lamine "Lopez" Soumah. They were also to recruit Aly Sylla, Koungbanan Conde, Fatouabou Camara, Lancei Kante and Bolokada Conde.

Image of Gbanworo Keita

In 88, Noumoudy and Lopez became the leaders of Percussions of Guinea while Gbanworo and Laurent resumed with the Ballets Africains. Between 1988 and 1999 he was the most ubiquitous ballet percussionist. However, his health started to suffer and he eventually died in December 2001.

He was a powerful, frightening drummer, with strong charisma, one of few Malinke djembefolas who was able to master the rhythms of various ethnic groups.