I don’t want to underplay the importance of the political crisis and now war in the West African country of Mali, but to most Americans it’s a non-starter. Where is Mali? What’s the connection to Al-Qaeda? Why should we care? We don’t know.
In response to the crisis in her country, Diabate gathered together a group of 40 of Mali’s top musicians at a studio in Bamako, Mali’s capital and largest city, to record a track entitled, “Mali-ko”(Peace / La Paix), see the video on YouTube above or listen to the stream on SoundCloud.
The resulting ensemble, ‘Voices United for Mali,’ the group includes revered veterans like Oumou Sangare (who was on that original Wassoulou Sound album) and Amadou and Mariam, as well as the son of Ali Farka Touré, Vieux Farka Touré. Powered by an instrumental pulse of traditional Kora harp, guitars and percussion, the track moves through a dizzying array of styles and performers each remarkable and distinctive. There are a host of younger female singers in the Wassoulou style like Doussou Bakayoko, Sadio Sidibé, M’baou Tounkara, Fati Kouyaté and Djeneba Seck as well as male hip-hop oriented performers like Amkoullel, Master Soumi, Iba one, Mylmo. There are many soaring male vocalists who ememplify the griot tradition Mali share with neighboring Senegal and other West African countries like Kasse Mady and Soumaila Kanouté. Other male singers represent the gentler folk song tradition like Habib Koite and even Jamacan-style Rasta reggae like Tiken Jah. Many of the singing styles reveal an arabic tinge that demonstrate the Islamic component of Malian culture.
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