Category Archives: Africa

Mali’s Musical Life (P.2): Mali’s Musicians’ Lives

Text by Banning Eyre

Bamako Street

Photo by Banning Eyre

As reported last time, there is plenty of music going being played publically in Malian cities, especially Bamako, despite a State of Emergency. But the impression is deceptive. Crowds at nightclubs are thin. There are almost no foreign visitors to support clubs, festivals and concerts.

While street weddings are on, the families who sponsor them have less to spend, and are moreBamako: wedding with tama player and more inclined to cut costs by hiring lower-rung artists, often not griots as they would have been in the past, and there is less money changing hands. For musicians, there is hardly any point in recording, unless you are one of the lucky few to have an international career. Cellphone technology has made swapping music files so easy that even the pirates who used to undermine artistic careers with cheap cassettes and CDs have a hard time making sales.

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Mali’s Musical Life (P.1): The Present Music Scene

Festival Acoustic de Bamako

Photo by Banning Eyre

Text by Banning Eyre

In January and February, I made my fifth visit to Bamako, Mali. It was the first time back in ten years, and I was there with Sean Barlow to research new programs for Afropop Worldwide. We were especially interested to see how musicians’ lives had been affected in the aftermath of tumultuous events in 2012 and 2013 – namely, a rebellion in the north, eight months of sharia law under which music was banned in northern cities like Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal, a coup d’etat in Bamako, French military action to restore the nation’s sovereignty, and fraught elections bringing a new, fragile civilian government to power.

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The Creative Music Foundation (CMF) to Sponsor l’Ecole Fula Flute in West Africa

The Creative Music Foundation is acting as the nonprofit ‘fiscal sponsor’ for CMS alumnus Sylvain Leroux’s project to teach music to children in Guinea, West Africa. CMF is taking tax-deductible donations for the ‘l’Ecole Fula Flute.’ Read Sylvain’s story of how he started the school and the progress it’s made.

Text by Sylvain Leroux

Something very special has been happening in Guinea and l’Ecole Fula Flute has taken a life of its own.

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Is Salif really retiring soon, although his new CD “Talé” just came out?!

Text by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi

I just found out that my friend and music colleague Salif Keita released a new album Talé on Universal Rec.  Recently he was interviewed on Mali TV “Droit Libre”, in which he expressed his anger and disgust of the Malian government how they run the country. He also can’t accept the fact that musicians aren’t respected in Mali. They can’t live from their music and are exploited by the black market. Because of being mad at the political situation in his country and the miserable living conditions of musicians in Mali, he decided to retire from the music business! He wants to go back to his village and work their as a farmer. But before his retirement he still wants to play a couple of concerts.

If you ask me whether I can’t believe him. My answer is NO. I think he didn’t mean that. Becoming a farmer? That’s rediculous. I don’t want him to do something he can’t do. If he cares for his people and his country his job is to do his part as a musician to clean up the mess in his country. I’m very sure that his fans need him now more than ever. Now is the time that he shows what he stands for. He became a great musician and also rich because of their love and support. There was a time that he wanted to become a senator because he believed that he could become a positive force in the Malian political scene. I played my sax for him because I believed in him as a responsible man. A man who cares about his band, family and country. No, no and another no…I just hope that he has already changed his mind and talks about continuing playing. Because if he retires I wouldn’t try to see him again and play music in his village.

The interview (in French)

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Progressive electronic music from South Africa: Spoek Mathambo

Part of a new breed of African artists, 24 year-old Spoek Mathambo (rapper/DJ and graphic designer/illustrator) is hitting the world hard with his take on Afro-futurism. His goal of making music is to be progressive without forgetting his roots. As the front-man of the electro rap outfits SWEAT.X and PLAYDOE. Spoek Mathambo has become an increasingly prominent figure in the international music scene over the last couple of years.

Last year, Spoek Mathambo released his solo album, Mshini Wam for BBE (BBE Records), and has built a live band with Richard The Third (producer), Jakob Snake (drummer) & Nic Van Reenen (guitarist) in order to tour the project. The release of this project was particularly exciting as a sign to the world of what (South) Africa has in store in terms of progressive electronic music.

As a DJ, Spoek’s HIVIP project, which is promoting South African music, has gathered widespread attention. and was covered by the New York Times and Fader Magazine. He has been also touring Europe. Continue reading