Tag Archives: Acoustic

Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Song of the Week

Habib Koité – Koulandian

Habib Kioté is a Malian singer-songwriter –  a musician who writes, composes and performs their own musical material including lyrics and melodies. As a musical format, it is generally attributed to originating – in the case of North America at least – to blues and folk. So Habib Kioté’s style fits neatly into this picture, considering the influence of Malian and West African music on theses genres. It is worth remembering – of course – that singer-songwriting is so simple it has existed in some way or another in most human societies, but its nice to ponder on the networks that may exist amongst the world’s music.

Curiously, this week’s song feels like a blend between North America/European and Malian styles. The sound of the acoustic guitar, played with both flair and discipline, is very familiar to many in the Western world. The song is distinctly African however and this was certainly Habib’s intention. Since the 1990s he has experimented with adapting the sounds of traditional Malian instruments to the acoustic guitar. In comparison, the vocals are undoubtedly African. Not just in the language it is sung in, but in its strength and emotion. They compliment the complexity of the guitar and create something quite mesmerising.


Habib Kioté – Koulandian