Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Track of the Week

Inna Modja – Let’s Go to Bamako

It’s time for a change from the usual with some straight-up Malian-French pop music. This Saturday marks the 103rd International Women’s Day with this year’s theme being ‘Inspiring Change’. Therefore this week’s track is a debutant to the Hub and also hails from an under-explored genre of music in regards to the history of the Track of the Week.

Inna Modja, born in Bamako, is a Malian-French model and singer. Specialising in soul-pop, O’Brien of All Music writes that she “later abandoned” the music of her “African roots” in favour of a commercial career in pop music. Whether ‘abandon’ is the appropriate term is up for debate – she was mentored by Salif Keita whilst she was a backing singer in his band. O’Brien suggests with an air of disappointment that nothing of his influence appears to remain in her more mainstream approach. However it is worth pointing out that in some of her songs, including ‘Let’s Go to Bamako’, an element of soul-reggae  shines through, particularly in the percussion and rhythm guitar. Its hard to say if she picked this up from Salif or ‘blue-eyed‘ soul, Coffee-house scene musicians like Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz – a friend with who she has collaborated with. As always, its probably a bit of both.

Nevertheless, whatever she has done with her roots she has done so with some success. This success has so far topped-out with her single ‘French Cancan (monsieur sainte Nitouche)’ which reached No.1 in France and also did moderately well in other French-speaking countries around the world. She has sung about Mali and Bamako in particular on a few occasions, this week’s track is one example of this.

Inna Modja – Let’s Go to Bamako

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