The Team

Lucy Durán is a lecturer in the Music Department of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University where she teaches courses on West African and Cuban music. She has been researching the music of the Mande world since 1977, working with musicians in Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea and Mali, as well as among the Mande diaspora in Europe. In addition to her academic work, she has a long professional involvement with the media and the music industry. She is a broadcaster (she has been the regular presenter of BBC Radio 3’s leading world music programme World Routes since it began in 2000) and has been at the forefront of the promotion and dissemination of Malian music since the late 1980s. She has produced acclaimed albums by leading West African artists such Toumani Diabaté, Manecas Costa, Kasse Mady Diabaté, and Bassekou Kouyaté. She is principal investigator on the three-year project “Growing into music,” funded through the AHRC’s Beyond Text scheme, and is making a series of documentaries and short films about young musicians in both urban and rural Mali. Her recent research also focuses on the music and culture of wedding parties in Mali, and she is in the later stages of writing a book on the subject.

Geoff Baker is a Senior Lecturer in the Music Department at Royal Holloway, University of London. He studied modern languages at Oxford University and early music performance at the Utrecht Conservatorium and the Royal Academy of Music. Having gained experience as a performer of Renaissance and Baroque music, he went on to complete a PhD at Royal Holloway under the supervision of Dr Tess Knighton. He specialises in music in Latin America, and he has published extensively on colonial Peru. His book Imposing Harmony: Music and Society in Colonial Cuzco (Duke University Press, 2008) won the American Musicological Society’s Robert Stevenson Award in 2010. He co-edited Music and Urban Society in Colonial Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2011) with Tess Knighton, and he has contributed essays to several journals and collected volumes. Geoff also works on Latin American popular music, and he has a particular interest in contemporary urban music, above all in Cuba. He has published four essays on rap and reggaetón in Havana, and his book Buena Vista in the Club: Rap, Reggaetón, and Revolution in Havana (Duke University Press, 2011) was published in the series Refiguring American Music. His most recent research focuses on childhood musical learning and music education in Cuba and Venezuela. He is co-investigator on the three-year project “Growing into music,” funded through the AHRC’s Beyond Text scheme, and is making a series of documentaries and short films about young musicians in Cuba and Venezuela. He is in the later stages of writing a book on Venezuela’s famous orchestral music education program, El Sistema. He is currently based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, starting work on his part of a broader project entitled Music, Digitization, Mediation: Towards Interdisciplinary Music Studies, based at the Faculty of Music at Oxford University and led by Professor Georgina Born.

World Circuit Records and Nick Gold have established their reputation by producing some of the finest and most successful world music albums of the past two decades, specialising in music from West Africa and Cuba. The label is best known for the Grammy Award winning Buena Vista Social Club project and a roster including Ali Farka Toure, Orchestra Baobab,Toumani Diabate and Oumou Sangare, amongst many others.

Michele Banal graduated in Political Science at the University of Milan with a dissertation on jazz and the African-American civil rights movement. After a spell working in human rights for the European Union, he moved to London, where he received a Masters in Ethnomusicology at SOAS, focusing on African and Cuban music. He also studied classical and jazz music for several years, and has substantial experience in filming and sound recording. He is now working full-time on documentary making. Apart from being part of the Mali-Cuba team, where his main role will be to film and assemble a short film on the project, he is currently assisting the production of a music documentary for BBC Radio 2.

Lassana Diabate is Mali’s most gifted player of the bala, the 22-key xylophone of the Mande griots. He combines extraordinary virtuoso technique drawn from growing up deep inside the griot tradition, with many years’ experience of performing on the world stage in different musical styles. He is currently a member of the highly acclaimed group AfroCubism, and is the leader of an innovative new group of young griot performers, featuring the singer Awa Kasse Mady. He has been assisting Lucy Durán during her “Growing into Music” research in Mali, and will play a vital role in the Mali-Cuba project, coordinating the young Malian musicians during their performance in Bamako and travelling to Cuba with four of our young protagonists alongside the rest of the Mali-Cuba team.

Cary Diez is Vice President in charge of music at UNEAC (Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba), in Havana. She plays a fundamental role in the project by coordinating and organising our Mali-Cuba activities in Havana and Matanzas.