Cheka Katenen Dioubate, was raised by the Manding people of the ancient city of Kankan, Guinea in the
tradition of the Jeli or Praise Singer. Her main instrument is her voice and she also dances, plays piano
and `a few traditional percussion instruments from the Guinea region of West Africa.
The function of the Djelis or griots as we are sometimes called in the West, is a significant component of
Manding cultural expression. Cheka was born into a highly musical family in which both mother and father
were djelis.They were also the descendants of Djelis. In Manding culture children born into a musical
family are encouraged to adhere to the cultural traditions and hold an honored place in the society. In
Cheka`s family music was an integral part of everyday life and her training involved learning from the
many musicians and griots residing in her area, who were bound by the code of Manding culture to pass
on the ancient tradition of the Jelis, with its training in technique, improvisation, musicianship, history and
Encouraged by her family and community, Cheka started singing for her school in 1984. She participated
in school competitions every year and her school was always the area champion. Despite being very
young Cheka was identified as having a musical gift. Cheka also had a lot of support from her teachers.
During rehearsals they would put the little Cheka on a table so everybody could see her, because she
was not tall enough otherwise.
When Cheka was eleven years old she began to sing with her mother and aunts. For several years they
performed for baptisms, weddings and other ceremonies. This experience gave Cheka greater confidence
and the ability to sing and dance in public.
In 1997 Cheka formed her own group in Conakry, Cheka Music, and started playing in hotels and
restaurants of Conakry, Republic of Guinea. This was interrupted by Cheka`s emigration to Canada.
From 1998-2006, after emigrating to Canada, Cheka performed for numerous ceremonies in her
community and also participated in Afrofest 2006 at Queens Park in Toronto, Ontario. Cheka has been
encouraged by the welcome and warm reception she has received from Canadian audiences even
though singing mostly in Manding.
In 2009 at York University, Cheka shared a stage with the world-renowned kora player Ballake Sissoko
where Cheka demonstrated and explained the history of the Manding Djeli, and the meaning behind
several Djeli traditions. Cheka has also presented workshops on the role of the Djeli, through dance and
music presentations at primary and middle schools in Toronto, North York and at AfroFest Toronto.
Cheka enjoys sharing the beauty of Manding Griot culture.
In 2010 at Toronto’s Luminato Festival, Cheka shared the stage with Salifou Keita before an audience of
Encouraged by the enthousiastic reception from the Luminato audience, two months later Cheka
launched her first CD album titled Djelilou produced by Quammie aka Greybeard. The title track “Djelilou”,
is a moving tribute to all Djelis, her mother and father and the rich tradition that they have passed down.
The CD launch featured Guinean superstar Sekouba Bambino and an all star band led by Ivorian
keyboardist and arranger David Mobio.
In January 2011 Cheka toured Guinea, West Africa, to promote her then new album, “Dielilou”. The tour
was made possible in part by a grant from Ontario Arts Council national and the international touring
Cheka was encouraged by the positive reception she received from Guinean audiences and their
willingness to embrace her style of singing and dancing.
In 2012 Cheka was the special guest of the Guinean, Malian & Senegalese communities (West African)
and invited to sing at Mamaya events in Ottawa & Montreal.
In 2013 Cheka participated in Mwinda festival with her new Snow Griot band composed of the following
musicians: Todd Martin and Stanley, balaphone, Amara Kante, diembe, Frank Norquay, guitar &
dounoun, Neel Dani, guitar solo.
In 2014, except for a number of Guinea community events, Cheka performed at AfroFest 2014, with
Amara Kante and his band. On September 7, 2014 Cheka gave her yearly Griot Night concert with her
new Snow Griot Band at Daniels Spectrum, 585 Dundas Street.
In February, 2015, Cheka performed at three different venues in Toronto and Welland in honour of Black
On Saturday May 23, 2015, Cheka launched her cd album Bimogo at the Alliance Francaise Theater on
24 Spadina Rd, Toronto and then performed the next day at Carassauga Festival in Mississauga,
followed the next day by a noontime performance on Dundas Square, organized by Massey Hall Society
in association with Batuki Music Society. On May 30, 2015, Cheka performed for the Griot Summit at the
Waterfront in Toronto.
On January 2, 2016, Cheka launched her album DESTINY/DAKAN in Conakry the capital of Guinea at
the Palais du Peuple. It became one of the biggest events ever in the Palais with more than 2000
people/audience. A week after the launch Cheka received an invitation to sing at a three days event of an
internationally known Mali born artist, Salif Keita, with more than ten thousand people attending the
concerts. Most recently Cheka has been receiving numerous inquiries for performances and traveled to
some European countries, North America, Africa and went now also to Australia.
Cheka’s tour in Australia has been a great success to date, with performances in Brisbane, Adelaide for
two nights and Perth. Her last performance in Sydney is coming up at November 19 – 2016. Immediately
followed, upon her return to Canada, by another performance on November 26 in Columbus, OH.
Cheka was nominated for best female performing artist for a 2016 Kilimanjaro Radio selection process..
Cheka had a busy year in 2016.
Her videos on youtube were viewed by hundreds of thousands international visitors to a combined total
of well over one million views, to date.
Starting out the new year 2017 brought exciting news, after Cheka being nominated for two awards of
best female singer in 2016 in Guinea, winning both by public vote!
Cheka thanked her fans and all who made her success possible here;