Tag Archives: Malian music

West African Stars Bombino and Vieux Farka Touré to Perform at Carrboro ArtsCenter


Two of the finest guitarists from the Saharan region, Bombino and Vieux Farka Touré are set to perform on Sunday, October 13th at 8:00 p.m., at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina.

Vieux Farka Toure – Photo by Thomas Arnbo

The “Sons of the Sahara” show is a unique collaboration in which Bombino (Niger) and Vieux Farka Touré (Mali) perform separately and together, electric and acoustic.

More information at Artscenter
More about Bombino and Vieux Farka Touré


Tinariwen’s Alluring Nomadic Album

Tinariwen – Amadjar (ANTI-Records, 2019)

The most famous of the Tuareg desert blues bands, Tinariwen, made their new album during a road trip from southern Morocco to Nuakchot in Mauritania. The project started after Tinariwen’s October 2018 performance at the Taragalte Festival of nomadic cultures in the Moroccan Sahara. Tinariwen traveled with their French production team, who drove an old camper van that has been turned into a provisional mobile studio.

The road trip along Africa’s Atlantic coast took about 12 days. The Malian band and crew crossed southern Morocco, the Western Sahara and ended up in Nuakchott, the capital of Mauritania. Throughout the journey, the caravan stopped to set up camp. Tinariwen’s musicians made preparations for the recording and rehearsed their songs.

Tinariwen – Amadjar

Once in Nuakchott, Tinariwen spent two weeks recording with celebrated Mauritanian musician Noura Mint Seymali and her guitarist husband, Jeiche Ould Chigaly. The recordings were made under a large tent, with a small number of live takes, devoid of headphones or effects.

Amadjar showcases Tinariwen’s characteristic style: slow paced, dreamy songs featuring creative bluesy electric guitar lines and call and response vocals, enriched with violin, Noura Mint Seymali’s traditional ardin harp, handclapping rhythms and percussion.

Amadjar is a well-constructed, deeply mesmerizing album by one of the finest bands out of Mali.

More about Tinariwen.

Buy Amadjar


Salif Keita to Receive La Mar de Musicas Award

Salif Keita – Photo by Thomas Dorn

Malian world music star Salif Keita is the winner of La Mar de Musicas Award. La Mar de Musicas is a highly respected world music festival held in Spain.

The festival gave the award to Salif Keita for “having overcome all kinds of prejudices inside and outside Africa in his defense of the population with albinism and those who sing without belonging to the griot caste, and for the inspiration of his powerful voice, having managed to mix the deep tradition of his region with global sounds.”

Keita will receive his award tomorrow, Monday, July 22, 2019.


Artist Profiles: Oumar Konate

Oumar Konate

Virtuoso guitarist and singer-songwriter Oumar Konate was born in Gao, northern Mali. At six, Oumar was leading his first band in the street in front of the family home.

While a student at the National School of Arts (l’Institut National des Arts) in Bamako, Mali’s capital, Oumar recorded his first album Lahidou (The Promise) in 2007. He has since collaborated with many great artists in Malian music; including Vieux Farka Toure, Sidi Toure, Khaira Arby and others.

Oumar was a guest guitarist on Sidi Toure’s 2011 album Sahel Folk. He regularly tours as backing guitarist to Vieux Farka Toure. He leads the house band on the popular monthly television variety show Tounkagouna on Malian National TV ORTM.

In June 2011, Oumar was invited to perform at the Mali Festival in Sweden. He toured the USA with singer Khaira Arby in the spring of 2012 and returned again with his own band in July of that year to perform at Lincoln Center Out of Doors and at the Grassroots Festival near Ithaca, New York.

In January 2012, he appeared at the Festival au Desert, Essakane in Timbuktu, Mali.

“Addoh” (Clermont Music) was Oumar Konaté’s international debut album, released in 2014.

In 2016 he was awarded the Tamani d’Or, the Malian music industry’s leading music award.

“Maya Maya” was released while Mali was in turmoil.

“Live in America” (2017) contains fiery Afro-rock by Oumar Konaté with his power trio on its 2014 tour. The band included Makan Camara and Cheick Siriman Sissoko.

In 2019 Oumar Konate released “I Love You Inna,” recorded in Bamako during the Spring of 2018.


Lahidou – The Promise (2007)
Addoh ‎(Clermont Music, 2014)
Maya Maya (Clermont Music, 2016)
Live in America (Clermont Music, 2017)
Oumar Konaté Live In Bamako ‎(Clermont Music, 2018)
I Love You Inna (Clermont Music, 2019)


A Brilliant Set of Modern Malian Music

Oumar Konate – I Love You Inna

Oumar Konate – I Love You Inna (Clermont Music, 2019)

Oumar Konate, one of the most talented Malian musicians of his generation, has released his fifth album, I Love You Inn. Oumar has appeared on numerous albums in recent years, showcasing his talent as a formidable guitarist. You’ll still find plenty of admirable guitar on I Love You Inna, but there is also his vocalist and songwriter aspect, which is equally gifted.

I Love You Inna contains a mix of delightful love songs and dazzling, finely-crafted contemporray Malian music rooted in tradition.

The lineup includes Oumar Konate on guitars and lead vocals; Dramane Touré on bass; Makan Camara on drums and percussion; Fallou Mbaye on Wolof sabar; Assabe Dramé on kamele ngoni; Adama Sidibé on violin; Alhouseini Yattara on calabass; Moussa Yatara on calabass; Hama Sankaré on calabass; and Yoro Cissé on monochord.

Buy I Love You Inna


First-Class Malian Music from Hama Sankare

Hama Sankare – Niafunke (Clermont Music, 2019)

If you’ve ever heard Malian artists like Ali Farka Toure, Afel Bocoum, Le Troup Regionale de Nia funke, L’Orchestre de Gao, Songhoy Allstars or BanKaiNa, you’ve heard Alpha Ousamane “Hama” Sankare. This vocalist, calabash player, composer and arranger is a kind of musical cornerstone in Mali’s musical landscape who stepped out on worldwide musical stage in 2018 on his Clermont Music release Ballebe – Calling All Africans.

Now, because the fine folks at Clermont Music know a good thing when they hear it, they’ve set loose another stunning collection of songs by Mr. Sankare on the world music scene. Entitled Niafunke , Mr. Sankare blazes bright with this collection of original tracks with a few traditional Malian tunes thrown in for good measure and a track co-written with vocalist Afel Bocoum.

Hama Sankare – Niafunke

Whether you’re new to the wonders of Malian music or are already a devoted fan, Niafunke is brimming over with Malian goodness.

Joining Mr. Sankare’s vocals and calabash playing on this recording is a first class line-up of musicians including Oumar Konate on guitar, Oramane Toure on bass, Makan Camara on drums and percussion, Afel Bocoum on backing vocals, Yoro Cisse on monochord, Alibaba Traore on guitar, Kande Sissoko on ngoni and Sekou Toure on backing vocals.

Overflowing with trance-inducing rhythms, warm call-and-response vocals, shimmering guitar licks so good they’ll make a grown man weep and surrounded by the steady, righteous rhythms of calabash, Niafunke is stellar collection of musical treats.

From the opening of “Dewel Wege” through tracks like the guitar lick laced “Remobe” and goodies like “Tiega Mali” and traditional track “Nojarro,” Niafunke is all hip grooves surrounded by that keenly felt Malian dessert blues/rock stamp.

Fans will definitely want to take a listen to “Alkaleyka,” the bluesy “Yer Kur Ti Afo” and the feel good “Solane,” as well as the upbeat ode to women and children “Cherie” and spectacular instrumental “Baba Gomni.”

Niafunke overflows with great music and good grooves, so my only complaint about Niafunke has nothing to do with the music itself, it concerns the liner notes. In teeny tiny letters on the back of the cover under the song title are some of the lyrics to the songs. Some of these lyrics include: “Today Mali suffers – Killings Banditry – We are tearing each other apart,” “People of Mali come together for peace,” and “Its is a tragedy that there are so many people without meaningful work. So much human potential is being lost.”

I’ll say right out that the regular World Music Central reader is smarter than the average bear. That being said, I’m sure there are a good number of folks out there that have no clue about the goings on in Mali or even where Mali is. If it takes liner notes concerning the state of affairs another country or culture or the tragedies of another group of people far away to enlighten music lovers then that’s what it takes. I don’t think making a point to publish decent sized liner notes of a song’s lyrics so people can and are encourage to read them takes anything away from the music. Knowing the hardships of Mali doesn’t take power away from Mr. Sankare’s music – it makes it all the more powerful.

Buy Niafunke in North America

Buy Niafunke in Europe


Celebrated Malian Singer Fatoumata Diawara Announces 2019 North American Tour

Fatoumata Diawara

Malian singer-songwriter and guitarist Fatoumata Diawara will be touring North America in March and April to support her new Shanachie Records album Fenfo (“Something To Say”).

Fatoumata Diawara – Fenfo

The splendid and socially mindful artist has used her music to focus on critical matters such as arranged marriage, migration, genital mutilation, domestic violence. She also campaigned against the trafficking and sale of black migrants in Libyan slave markets.

Fatoumata Diawara has collaborated with Bobby Womack, Herbie Hancock, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Damon Albarn, Roberto Fonseca, David Crosby, Amadou & Mariam, Oumou Sangaré and Snarky Puppy.

Tour dates:

March 21 – Neptuno Theater – Seattle, WA
March 23 – The Theatre at Ace Hotel – Los Angeles, CA
March 24 – San Francisco Jazz Festival – San Francisco, CA
March 26 – Montorco – Music Hall – Durham, NC
March 28 – Savannah Music Festival – Savanah, GA
March 30 – Le Poisson Rouge – New York, NY
March 31 – Highland Center for the Arts – Greensboro, VT
April 2 – Le National – Montreal, Canada
April 3, Palais Montcalm – Maison de la Musique – Quebec, Canada
April 4 – Toronto Centre for the Arts – Toronto, Canada
April 5 – City Winery Boston – Boston, MA
April 6 – North Beach Bandshell – Miami Beach, FL


Bassekou Kouyate’s Impeccably Crafted Music

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba – Miri (Out Here Records, 2019)

Over the years Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba have dazzled fans with recordings like Ba Power (2015), Jama Ko (2013), I Speak Fula (2010) and Segu Blue (2007), so it can come as no surprise that Mr. Kouyate and the members of Ngoni Ba are back at it, serving up some equally fabulous music on their fifth studio album called Miri (meaning dream or contemplation in the Bamana language) from Mr. Kouyate’s original label Out Here Records.

Dipping into topics like love, family, friendship and current struggles over ethnic differences, power and climate change, Mr. Kouyate puts a finger on the pulse of Mali and an every changing world and gives it to us good by way of impeccably crafted music and singsong vocals.

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba – Miri

Miri proves rich and rewarding Malian fare from the opening track “Kanougnon” with its sweet vocals and oud by guest artist Majid Bekkas against the intricate delicacies of ngoni on this searching for love song. Equally delicious is “Deli,” a song about friendship that boasts some outstanding percussion. Joining Mr. Kouyate on his own lead ngoni and Ngoni Ba members Amy Sacko on lead vocals, Abou Sissoko on medium ngoni, Madou Kouyate on bass ngoni, Mahamadou Tounkara on doundoun, tama and yabara and Moctar Kouyate on cabasse on the track “Kanto Kelena” is vocalist Habib Koite. Fans get a dose of Cuba on “Wele Cuba” with guest singer Yasel Gonzalez Rivera from the group Madera Limpia.

Title track “Miri” is a stunning instrumental track. Interestingly, the track is based on the Mr. Kouyate’s experiences as a child playing by the Niger River near his hometown Garana. Musically, Mr. Kouyate struggles with the easy memories of playing by the river with Mali’s current struggles with the Islamist movement, falling tourism and climate change that has dried out parts of the Niger River. It is through the music that Mr. Kouyate dreams of peace in his country.

There are other goodies like the twangy touches of Mr. Kouyate’s bottleneck slide ngoni on bluesy “Wele Ni” with vocals by Abdoulaye Diabate, some fiery percussion and ngoni lines on the track “Konya” and the rich vocals of Amy Sacko on the bluesy “Nyame,” a song urging respect your family and your family’s heritage with some extra help from guest fiddler Casey Driessen.

Guest singer Afel Bocoum appears on the “Tabital Palaaku,” a song about the conflicts between herders and farmers and the ethnic struggles that go along with struggles over land use in the wake of climate change. Miri closes out with an homage to Mr. Kouyate’s mother on the track he named after her called “Yakare.” Ms. Sacko gives voice to Yakare and her 13 children and a life of singing.

Miri is a true treat and all about the big dreams, small pleasures, love, friendship and hardship of Mali.


Malian Singer Sali Sidibé Dies at 59

Sali Sidibé

Malian vocalist Sali Sidibé died on February 8, 2019 in Bamako at the age of 59. She was a significant artist from the Wassulu region of Mali.

Born in 1959, Sali Sidibé began her professional music career with an album released in 1980 titled L’enfant chéri du Wassolon (The Darling Child of Wassolon), with vocals in Bambara. Wassoulou Foli (Sterns), produced by Ibrahima Sylla, was her first album widely distributed internationally.


Miri by Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba, Number One on the Transglobal World Music Chart

Miri (Outhere Records), the new album by Malian sensation Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba is the number one album in February 2019 on the Transglobal World Music Chart.

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Miri

The February chart:

  1. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Miri – Outhere
  2. Vardan Hovanissian & Emre Gültekin – Karin – Muziekpublique
  3. Dhafer Youssef – Sounds of Mirrors – Anteprima
  4. Urna Chahar-Tugchi featuring Kroke – Ser – Urna Chahar-Tugchi / UCT
  5. Le Trio Joubran – The Long March – Cooking Vinyl
  6. Salif Keita – Un Autre Blanc – Naïve
  7. Ukandanz – Yeketelale – Buda Musique
  8. Belonoga – Through the Eyes of the Earth – NarRator Records
  9. Moonlight Benjamin – Siltane – Ma Case
  10. Gaye Su Akyol – İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir – Glitterbeat
  11. Debashish Bhattacharya, Hubert Zemler & Wojtek Traczyk – Joy!Guru – Unzipped Fly
  12. Afro Celt Sound System – Flight – ECC
  13. Tartit – Amankor / The Exile – Riverboat / World Music Network
  14. Ali Hassan Kuban – From Nubia to Cairo – Piranha
  15. Shooglenifty & Dhun Dhora – Written in Water – Shoogle
  16. Rodopi Ensemble – Thraki: Thrace, the Paths of Dionysus – ARC Music
  17. Janusz Prusinowski Kompania – Po Śladach / In the Footsteps – Słuchaj Uchem / Buda Musique
  18. Kelly Thoma – Ama Kopasoun oi Kairoi (As the Winds Die Down) – Kelly Thoma
  19. Alfredo Rodríguez & Pedrito Martínez – Duologue – Mack Avenue
  20. Oratnitza – Alter Ethno – Fusion Embassy