In the last few weeks, as major media outlets scrambled to explain to readers why they should care about Mali, many took note of the country’s magnificent musical heritage. There have been expertly-curated online listening tours, a few top 10 lists, conjecture about where Mali’s Tuareg musicians’ loyalties lie, and consternation over the future of Mali’s music festivals. In January, a who’s-who of Malian musical stars came together to record “Mali ko.” But was it “voices united for peace,” or a call to rise up and violently repel northern aggressors?
I’ve been an avid collector, listener, and concertgoer of Malian music for over a decade. For what it’s worth, here is my favorite Malian music clip on the web, a fireside session with the griots of Kela, from the collection of Tout Pouissant Africa.