Habibe Koité

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


I'm going to wrap up my long, slow and rambling series on the music of Mali with this post featuring videos of the immensely talented Habib Koité and his band Bamada.  Koité is deservedly the most popular of all the Malian musicians I've posted about. In fact, he's considered by many to be the finest African musician today -- an opinion I would not argue with. 

I've used the rich musical scene of Mali to discuss how West African music was taken to America in the diaspora of the slave trade. In the Age of Sail it evolved in isolation, but by the middle of the 20th Century American and Latin flavored black music returned to Africa via records and radio.

Around the same time Malian expats were playing on European tours. Eventually, largely left-leaning promoters brought their music to a wider audience when they created the notion of World Music as a means of binning their albums in record stores. This led to a situation where much of the world's music -- J-Pop and Bollywood music being the most glaring examples -- were excluded from the so-called World Music scene in favor of left-leaning musicians.

However, those days are over. The demise of record stores with their bins, and the rise of the internet with it searches, will change that dynamic just as surely as the first record brought to Mali impacted the local music. It will curious to see if that particular march through the cultural institutions has came to an end and if it will be reversed, or at least countered.

Below is a list of the earlier posts in the series for those interested:

Father & Son
14 years later
Torn from today's headlines
Ex-pats in Paris
Unscheduled comparison
An interlude in the record bins
Unnatural Selection





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