Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Siren Fen

For the previous  two occasions the opening Song of the Week of the year has been delivered by a Malian griot. Not wanting to break tradition just yet we return from a short break with ngoni grand-master Bassekou Kouyate. Siren Fen is from Kouyate’s most recent album ‘Ba Power’ released in 2015. With 3 more albums already under his belt, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba used ‘Ba Power’ to push the boundaries a little further and earned themselves great recognition, making it to the number 1 spot on a BBC ‘Top African Tracks of 2015‘ list compiled by DJ Rita Ray with this week’s song. She points to its “magical blend of ancient griot traditions and modern music making”. The use of electronic elements is particularly new for Kouyate, who we can hear using wah pedal and distortion effects through-out the song.

Onward into this New Year we march, leaving an exceptional year for Malian and African music behind. Hopes for the continent for 2016 noted in this article allude to the fact that Mali’s Festival Au Desert continues its exile. However in 2015 new festivals, in Segou in particular, gained traction and many artists have albums due for release this year. So while the security situation remains bleak the artistic outlook for the country is quite excellent. We’re delighted to have Kouyate kick-off what should be another successful year for the Hub.


Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Siren Fen


Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group –

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at Any comments and ideas for improving the Hub are especially welcome. We all look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for tuning in.

The Mali Interest Hub is an initiative run by the Mali Development Group, supported by the Alliance for Mali.

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