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…

The Top World Music Albums of 2016

Following up on our top news articles of 2016, another annual Pine Tree Republic tradition is to review the past year in world music. With digital music services making ever more music available from around the world, it can be difficult to distinguish what makes “world music” distinct from any other kind of music we might hear these…

The Top World Music Albums of 2016 (So Far…)

It’s hard to believe we’re already past the halfway point of 2016. As usual, this year has already brought a bounty of must-hear music from all corners of the world. New albums have trickled in from established artists on the world music circuit (such as Fanfare Cicorlia), while new artists are being discovered from countries…

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…