The Sahara Circle of Life: Imarhan and Tinariwen’s “Elwan”

Sixteen years ago, a group called Tinariwen (the word for “deserts” in the Tamashek language) burst onto the world music scene with a performance at Mali’s Festival au Désert and subsequent performances in Europe. Since that time, the group has served as the unofficial musical ambassadors of the nomadic Touareg people and the “desert blues”, or assouf, music of the…

From Bassekou Kouyaté to Songhoy Blues: The Evolution of the Malian Troubadour

In the West Africa of the 13th and 14th centuries, the reigning Malinke Empire gave rise to a unique societal group called griots. Originating from a handful of families, griots served as storytellers, musicians, and poets to the courts. Essentially, griots acted as troubadours for their societies, passing down collective history, memory, and values to their societies long before the…

The Top Five World Music Albums of 2015 (So Far)

2015 has been a great year for world music so far. African bands in particular have had a banner year, with groups from Mali, Niger, and the Congo issuing original music that transcends boundaries. In other parts of the world, collaboration between different traditions has also led to exciting musical discoveries.   If you’re looking to…