Economically speaking, Mali is one of the poorest countries on earth. Culturally, it is one of the richest. Bluesy, hypnotic guitar, soaring vocals, mind-bending melodies – Malian music is some of the most powerful in the world. Here are a few extraordinary songs and artists from Mali. Many of the videos are gorgeous in their own way as well. Enjoy.
Ali Farka Toure (RIP) and Boubacar “KarKar” Traore. Two Malian heavyweights perform Boubacar’s “Diarabi” in a stunning setting. These two guitarists have helped craft a brand of music that is part blues, part Arabic, and part Mande. Tell me you can’t feel the warm wind of the desert when you watch this?
Amadou & Mariam’s “M’bife” – Mariam lost her vision when she was five years old because of untreated measles. Amadou went blind when he was 16. After meeting at Mali’s Institute for the Young Blind, they got married and began making some of the most beautiful music in the world. When Mariam’s voice comes in I need to sit down.
Oumou Sangare’s “Yala” – Oumou Sangare is a songstress from Wassoulou, an area south of Bamako. This is the region of traditional Malian hunter’s music. If you visit Awesome Tapes From Africa, you can find a ton of Malian hunter’s music. In the video, amazing photos of post-independence Mali taken by famous Malian photographer Malick Sidibe.
Sekouba Traore. This is raw. Sekouba with his kora comes across as the most heavily armed man in the video. This is another example of hunter’s music.
Vieux Farka Toure with Toumani Diabite “Diabite” – Toumani is a Malian giant and Vieux, son of Ali Farka Toure, is fast becoming one. A conversation between kora and guitar, this song is unreal.
More Vieux Farka Toure. I have seen him play twice in Washington DC (he tours Europe and North America somewhat regularly). The most recent time, you could hear the crowd gasp after he ripped off a guitar line. Even Vieux himself looked surprised at what he was playing. Brilliant, explosive guitar work. He is nicknamed the Hendrix of the Sahara.
Rokia Traore’s “Mouneissa.” If you ever want to lure me into a trap, play this song. I will follow. Stunning voice and imagery.
Mamou Sidibe’s “Tounga” – The real reason I’m going to Mali is to stalk Mamou Sidibe. I love her voice. I love this song. I love this video.
You can download audio from any youtube clip from dirpy.com for free, but I would encourage you to support these artists if you are able. Between Itunes, Amazon, and Mondomix (a world music site), you can find all of these artists.
If you have any artists or songs from Mali that you would like to share, put it in the comments!