Ancestral Home of the Blues

Various artists

The Rough Guide to African Blues

In recent years there has been a growing interest in finding the connections between American blues and African music. Mali, Western Saharan cultures and other parts of West Africa seem to be the places where the so called African blues can be found. The Rough Guide to African Blues is a great introduction for those seeking to learn more about these thrilling types of music.

The most famous representative of Mali is the late Ali Farka Toure. He was known for a characteristic bluesy sound on the electric guitar. On this CD he appears in a collaboration with American bluesman Corey Harris. There are several other well known Malian artists, including Boubacar Traoré, Oumou Sangare, and Rokia Traore, and the blues roots found are more or less deep depending on the artist.

Desert blues has become a household name in world music circles recently. It is used to define the music of various ethnic groups that live in the Western Saharan regions. One of the best known are the Tuareg. Desert cultures have been affected by the creation of new African nations with clearly define borders. For centuries, desert nomads did not know borders, but now they find themselves as part of a certain country and many are encouraged to settle down. The two best known Tuareg desert blues bands are missing, but the Tuareg are represented by an excellent new band called Etran Finatawa, which combines Tuareg and Wodaabe music.

Another representative of the Sahara is Mariem Hassan, from the Western Sahara (the former Spanish Sahara, now occupied by Morocco). She left the refugee camps in Algeria and now lives in Spain, but her band is composed by Saharawis and is one of the most exciting acts from the region.

Not all the artists are from the Western part of Africa. Sudanese singer Rasha belongs to a musical family that combines Arabic, Sub-Saharan African and blues sounds.

Buy The Rough Guide to African Blues.