Massamba Diop is one the most renowned masters of the tama, a talking drum from Senegal, West Africa, known for its abilities to replicate the sounds of human speech. Before the advent of telephones and radio, it was the tama that was called upon to announce important events and send messages from village to village. Recognizing the central role talking drums play in many African cultures, Ludwig Gorensson decided to put it, and Diop, front-and-center of his Grammy- and Oscar-winning score for Marvel's Black Panther.
But by the time of Black Panther, Diop was already a seasoned figure on the world music scene. He first came into the limelight as lead percussionist and founding member of Daande Lenol (The Voice of the People), the band of Senegalese super-star Baaba Maal. Over the past 40 years the group has toured the world, working with many notable musicians and releasing dozens of albums, including Firin' in Fouta, which was nominated for a Grammy in 1996. Diop has also performed and recorded with the likes of James Brown, Mumford & Sons, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, Harry Belafonte and Angelique Kidjo. He appeared on Peter Gabriel's landmark release Passion, which won a Grammy in 1990, and has made several appearances with Playing for Change's "songs around the world." He has been part of many major international diplomatic events like the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo, the 2012 Olympics in London, and joined Stevie Wonder and a star-studded cast in 2009 to perform "Happy Birthday" for Nelson Mandela to close out Mandela Day at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Diop is also a Remo Percussion, Inc. endorsed artist, and in 2016 helped them design and launch the "Tamani Talking Drum," the first mass-produced tama available to the public.
In 1993, Diop and American percussionist Tony Vacca co-founded the Senegal-America Project, a grass-roots cultural exchange program which has sponsored various educational, health care and artistic initiatives in Senegal, and has provided an important venue for African musicians in the States. Diop and Vacca tour the Northeast each year with a variety of performances, school programs, and workshops, from their Northampton, MA base. Diop has several other regular collaborators including Surabhi Ensemble in Chicago, Walo Walo in Portland, Oregon, and Total Rhythm in San Francisco. He currently calls Columbus, Ohio home.