Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Tinriwen – Toumast Tincha

The Twitter hashtag #musicinexile got a little bit more use this week as rising stars Songhoy Blues released an album by the same name – their first – on Monday. Their story of the conflict and of fleeing persecution for being musicians is frightening common. When theirs began they were completely unknown- at least to the world of music. There are plenty of griots and other musicians who’s stories have not become known to the world. Their precious, historic music lost forever. When Tinariwen were forced to leave their homes and country, presumably they had to pack up their grammy awards with them. Even with their fame, or perhaps as a result of it, they could not escape the terror. Guitarist Abdallah Ag Lamida was captured by Ansar Dine and was held for several months, before being released in January 2013.

In their own exile, Tinariwen are weary but undiminished in their musical spirit. They produced the album Emmaar in 2014 and was recorded in California’s Joshua Tree National Park. We, along with others, have already clocked the similarity in the Malian sahel and the geography of Joshua Tree. This is something not lost on the band either and by coincidence or not its a situation that oozes narrative. When listening to this week’s Song of the Week take a bit of time to view the excellently composed music video which shows the band travelling through the desert – familiar yet thousands of miles from home.


Tinariwen – Toumast Tincha

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