Baaba Maal is my favorite West African musician. Though I haven't been able to see him since I've been here in his homeland of Senegal, I was lucky enough to see his fabulous group when they played in San Francisco last year. Baaba Maal focuses mainly on traditional music from his Fula heritage. Using local instruments like the kora and the balafon and combining them with electric guitar and drums, he has helped revive interest in traditional music. Although Baaba Maal was not born a griot, he considers himself to be a social commentator. He feels musicians have a great responsibility since their work has such power of influence; his songs are often about youth, politics, and other social issues.
To listen to more music from West Africa to South Africa, be sure to check out the Multi-Media and Special Guests pages.
Although most things in West Africa are dominated by men, there is one woman who has broken through and made a name for herself. Mali's own Oumou Sangare is a beautiful singer who is famous for a style of music called wassoulou. Wassoulou uses a youth harp which sounds like a funky base. Oumou Sangare's main draw is her lyrics which address issues of concern to women in Mali and challenge traditional roles. She has sung songs about arranged marriages and a woman's freedom to choose her own lover and songs about the daily sacrifice of a woman's life in Mali.
Youssou N'Dour is one of West Africa's most famous musicians. I first fell in love with his beautiful voice when I heard him wailing at the end of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes." Needless to say, we were all thrilled to find out not only that he comes from Dakar, Senegal but that he sometimes makes appearances and plays with his band Le Super Etoile at his nightclub Thiosanne.. Abeja, Jasmine and I were lucky enough to catch him on just one of those nights. The band plays mbalax music which combines traditional Wolof drum rhythms with western rock. The music was so much fun, but unlike everyone else getting down on the dance floor, we found it a little hard to dance to. Unlike the western music we're used to, with one main beat, mbalax combines many different rhythms from djimbes and talking drums. Youssou N'Dour's beautiful voice has brought him worldwide attention, and he has performed with Peter Gabriel, Neneh Cherry, and Tracy Chapman, to name a few.
Team - Kevin Gets a Souvenir from Africa: Malaria
Jasmine - Lac Rose
Monica - The Ingredients of crossing the Sahara desert: Sand, Water and Landmines???
Monica - The People on the Bus Go Up and Down, Part II
Monica - Trying to sail the ocean blue!
Making a Difference - Abeja gets M.A.D.-- she's Making a Difference
Team - Bittersweet Recollections: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Mali
Time Machine | Multimedia and Special Guests
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