Malian Music

The Republic of Mali is in Western Africa, southwest of Algeria. Border countries: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal.

Mali is a country known for its jalis (or jelis), oral historians also known as griots and the traditions of the kora (West African harp), the ngoni lute and bala (west African xylophone), as well as the Tuareg music in the north.

In the 1970s, the highly influential Super Rail Band, a state-sponsored ensemble that was based at a Bamako railway station hotel, served as an essential learning experience for the careers of numerous West African musicians. The Rail Band became legendary because it nurtured guitarist Kante Manfila, kora player and singer Mory Kante and vocalist Salif Keita. The Super Rail Band was also one of the first to electrify Manding music and integrate Afro-Cuban influences which many West African instrumentalists brought back from their stays in Cuba.

In the 1980s, Malian kora music was revolutionized when Ballake Sissoko and Toumani Diabate, the sons of Jeli Madi Sissoko and Sidiki Diabate, introduced chord progressions that were normally played on the guitar.

Charismatic female vocalists such as Kandia Kouyate and Oumou Sangare became world music stars.

Tuareg Music

Northern Mali is characterized by the music of the Tuareg comumnity. Tuaregs are nomadic people who have been present in the vast territories of the Sahara and the Sahel in Africa for thousands of years. They are related to the great Berber community that dominated Northern Africa until the arrival of the Arab conquerors in the seventh century. They share the basis of their culture and language with the Berbers, although they alone have preserved the use of the ancient rifinagh alphabet that was once used by all the Berber peoples.

Music, song and poetry occupy an extremely large and fundamental place in Tuareg society. Their music is characterized by the importance given to the voices and by the reduced number of instruments.

Malian Musicians

Abdoulaye Diabate
Abdoulaye Djoss Diabate
Adama Tounkara
Adama Yalomba
Ali Farka Toure
Amadou & Mariam
Assitan Mamani Keita
Baba Sissoko
Balla Kouyate
Balla Tounkara
Ballake Sissoko
Bassekou Kouyate
Boubacar Traoré
Cheick-Tidiane Seck
Coumba Sidibe
Djelimady Tounkara
Fatoumata Diabate
Habib Koité
Issa Bagayogo
Khaira Arby
Kasse Mady Diabate
Lassana Diabate
Madina N’Diaye
Madou Sidiki Diabate
Mamadou Diabate
Mamadou Sidibe
Nahawa Doumbia
Oumou Sangare
Rokia Traore
Salif Keita
Songhoy Blues
Super Rail Band
Toumani Diabate
Vieux Farka Toure
Yacouba Sissoko
Yaya Diallo

Malian Music compilations

Lost In Mali (Riverboat Records, 2015)