Mamady Keïta was born in the small village of Balandougou, Guinea, in the northeastern prefecture of Siguiri, near the border of Mali. His initiation to thedjembe started at the early age of seven, under Karinkadjan Kondé, elder master djembefola of Balandugu, who initiated him to the secrets of the djembe. Keïta was educated in the traditions of his village, learning the history and music of the Malinke people. At the age of twelve, he became a member of the first regional federal ballet of Siguiri after Balanka Sidiki, a recruiter for the group, came to Balandugu looking for performers.[
At the time, Guinea was governed by Sékou Touré, who put special emphasis on Guinean culture through live performances and a system of local, regional, and national competitions that recruited the greatest artists of the land. During the National Festival in 1964, Keïta, then aged fourteen, along with fifty other percussionists and numerous other artists, was selected by Guinea's Minister of Culture to form Le Ballet National Djoliba (The Djoliba National Ballet), which was intended to serve as a showcase for Touré's revolution in Guinea. After nine months of training, he was one of only five percussionists retained.
He was appointed lead soloist of Ballet Djoliba in 1965 and, in 1979, became its artistic director. He stayed with Ballet Djoliba until 1986, when he joined Ballet Koteba in Côte d'Ivoire.
In 1988, Keïta moved to Belgium where he worked as a performer and teacher. In 1991, he opened his first school Tam Tam Mandingue percussion school in Brussels, to be followed by additional schools in Europe, the US, and Asia, each run by a school director personally certified by Keïta for his/her playing skill and teaching abilities.
Since then, Keîta has worked as a performer with his group Sewa Kan and recorded a number of CDs. He also teaches internationally, running international workshops in Europe, the US, Asia, and Australia, as well as an annual camp in Africa. He has published a large body of djembe teaching materials on CD and DVD, as well as an instructional book.
He resides in Monterrey, Mexico.