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Hear Habíb Koíté perform

(One-minute sample)

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Habíb Koíté
Habíb Koíté is considered one of Mali's most modern musical artists, not because he uses technology in his sound, but because he composes with such a broad stylistic sensibility. He understands blues, jazz, rock 'n roll and the newer forms of Afropop. Habib's worldliness makes his allegiance to Malian traditional music all the more admirable. He was born to a griot family, but when he was growing up in Kayes, near the Senegal border, his parents made it quite clear that they did not want him to become a musician. Through stealthy sessions with borrowed guitars, he persisted anyway. After his teenage schooling he was invited to enroll in the four-year program at Mali's only music institue, The Institue de Music in Bamako, where he later taught guitar and music theory. Habib chose to play a nylon string guitar because he did't consider himself good enough to compete with Mali's power house lead guitarists, but he ended up developing a unique picking technique that now defines his band's sound.

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Habib has recorded two albums that masterfully synthesize his influences, while always yielding uniquely Malian music. In "Sirata," the snare drum snaps out a rhythm from Latin pop, the bass lopes in rock ballad mode, and the mournful, twinkling ostinatto of the Malian Ngoni (an ancestor of the American banjo) defines the son's emotional character. Habib's lyrics in this song refer to the allegorical story of Syra, a young woman who provides protection for birds, fish and forest animals. The song's evocation fo the Manding reverence for the first daughter in a family amounts to an implicit call for respect fo women.

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This information and world music sample are compliments of Putumayo World Music. Putumayo’s mission is to introduce people to other cultures through music, and towards this end they have released dozens of CDs and cassettes featuring some of the best music from around the world.

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