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West African guitarist and singer Alpha Yaya Diallo to perform Nov. 1

October 19, 2007

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? West African guitarist and singer Alpha Yaya Diallo and his band the Bafing Riders will bring an energetic music and movement performance to the Social Space in the McCullough Student Center on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 7:30 p.m. for a non-traditional dance-style event. McCullough Student Center is located on Old Chapel Road off College Street (Route 125).

In preparation for the performance, Diallo will offer a lecture and demonstration on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 12:30 p.m. in the Dance Theatre of the Kevin P. Mahaney '84 Center for the Arts, located on South Main Street (Route 30). The event is free and open to the public and lunch will be provided.

Originally from Guinea and now based in Vancouver, Canada, Diallo has earned a reputation internationally for the excitement of his live shows. His acoustic and electric guitar-playing and compelling grooves have helped make him one of the best known African guitarists today. He is also a skilled percussionist and writes and sings his own compositions.

By uniting the traditional and contemporary sounds of West Africa, Diallo has joined the ranks of musical colleagues such as Salif Keita, Baaba Maal, Youssou N'Dour, and Ismael Lo. A self-taught musician, he quickly learned how to transpose for his guitar the melodic and rhythmic patterns he heard on indigenous Guinean instruments. Much of his heritage comes from his childhood years, when his father, who worked as a doctor and surgeon, frequently moved the family around the region. Diallo was exposed to a variety of cultures and musical traditions.

In 1989, Diallo moved to Europe and became a member of Fatala - a group of West African musicians that recorded for Peter Gabriel's Real World label and traveled to appear at many festivals throughout Europe. After the band's North American tour in 1991, Diallo settled on the west coast. Since then he has recorded several highly acclaimed albums of his own compositions, including "Néné" (1993), on which Diallo played all the instruments, and "Futur" (1996), which won the Music Africa Award for National Recording of the Year and the Pacific Music Industry Award for Best World Music Album. In 1999, "The Message" won the Juno Award for Best Global Recording, and in 2002, "The Journey" also won the Juno Award. His latest album is "Djama" (2005).

Music critic Chris Rubin of Rhythm Magazine wrote, "Whether in lead or ginger picking style, for his musical creativity as well as his expressive voice, Diallo ranks easily among the most exciting and appealing African artists to ever hit the United States."

In recent years, Diallo has traveled through Canada and the U.S., garnering rave reviews for his performances. He has performed at numerous world music, jazz and folk festivals, sharing the stage with artists such as David Lindley, Thomas Mapfumo and Jimmy Cliff. A documentary film about Diallo and his music titled "The Best of Both Worlds" premiered in 2001 on the Bravo Channel and on both the English and French CBC television. Diallo is increasingly recognized as one of Canada's leading music performers. In the summer of 2003, he played a series of high-profile European festivals as part of the Canada Council-sponsored "Sonic Wave" tour. And in February 2004, he was a member of the hugely successful African Guitar Summit concert at Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto.

The performance is sponsored by the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series, and Diallo's residency is funded in part by the Expeditions program of the New England Foundation for the Arts. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors. For tickets and information, contact the Middlebury College Box Office at 802-443-6433 or