Arouna was born in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, a major hub of cultural & artistic significance in West Africa. A griot from the Mandingue culture of West Africa, Arouna Diarra is an accomplished n’goni & balafon player. Performing a tradition of folk songs reflecting topics from war to love for one another, Arouna sings with spirit, nostalgia, and great joy, in his native language, Bambara. Whether performing on stage at Red Rocks, the jungle of Costa Rica, or intimate community settings Arouna and his band bring joy, harmony, and a connection to traditional folk music.
Diarra is a family name associated with the griot. In West African culture, griots are curators of the arts and of history. Their families, like Arouna’s, are composed of musicians, poets, and storytellers. Arouna was destined to bring traditional music into the modern day, further developing it while remaining true to it’s roots.
Performing styles such as Wassalou, Arouna brings a dynamic repertoire to the table, full of timing changes and improvisational prowess. He plays the kamale n’goni, a 14-string harp-like instrument (which he makes himself), with a melodic and percussive sensibility. Arouna's live performances often welcome a diverse group of musicians performing as the AZA Band. Musicians frequently joining Arouna onstage include percussionist Biko Casini and bassist/guitarist David Brown of Rising Appalachia.
Arouna was a key member of internationally-touring group, Lanaya. He is a founding member of the North Carolina based, West African folk music ensemble, Mandé Foly. Most recently Arouna has been touring the United States with Rising Appalachia, spreading that undeniable West African rhythm and joy.