Malo Sonko was born into a Mandinka family in the village of Abene in the Casamance region of Senegal.
In Casamance, there are other ethnic groups such as Fulani, Jola and Caraninke each with their own cultural heritage. This diversity has enriched the music and Casamance people play bougarabou, serouba and djembe rhythms to celebrate special occasions such as baby-naming ceremonies and to accompany everyday events such as farming and fishing.
Malo learned at an early age, from his musician father, the importance of the role of music in his culture. Between the ages of seven to seventeen, Malo learned drums from the village elders in Abene and Gambia as well as making frequent trips to Guinea. Malo started performing at the age of 10.
When Malo was seventeen he trained with Mohammed Sylla, a Guinean who spent time in Abene. Sylla formed Bitiniba and asked Malo to join. Bitiniba became very well known in Casamance and eventually many of the members moved to Europe.
Malo came to the UK in 2000 and started teaching both in the UK and across Europe in 2002. He has taught at numerous corporate events, festivals, schools and community centres. Alongside his 25-year teaching career, he has also led a number of performance troupes in both Senegal and England.
He now divides his time between Senegal and the UK, teaching and performing in both countries. In Casamance, Malo now leads the troupe Dimbaya, which performs traditional songs, rhythms and dance from West Africa. Dimbaya can be seen performing at festivals in Senegal and Gambia.
Malo will be teaching Serouba Drumming at the 2018 World Music Workshop festival.