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A message from our friends at World Circuit Records: Inna Baba Coulibaly with ALI FARKA TOURÉ – “Sahel”

World Circuit Records announce a special Record Store Day release

Have a listen ahead of time with this exclusive Soundcloud link: https://soundcloud.com/world-circuit-records/sets/inna-baba-coulibaly-with-ali-farka-toure-sahel/s-EuolL

Hello there! It’s been a while!

We’ve just been sent a special message from our friends over at World Circuit Records and we thought there’d be quite a few of you who would be interested in hearing what they’ve been up to. Rare Malian music alert! That got your attention. Now read on….

You may know World Circuit thanks to their legendary status after being the record label that brought us delights such as Oumou Sangare, Bueno Vista Social Club and – of course – Ali Farka Toure and his grammy award winning album with Ry Cooder Talking Timbuktu. To celebrate Record Store Day (22nd April 2017) World Circuit are  releasing a 10 inch vinyl EP of classic tracks by Inna Baba Coulibaly, the legendary Fula singer. The songs were recorded over forty years ago at the studios of Radio Mali in Bamako and feature that great Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure. They’ve seldom been heard outside Mali…until now!

The story of Inna Baba Couilbaly

“Music is my passion…It’s my destiny…Young musicians must respect our music, and not destroy our tradition”

The rest of their press release reads as follows:

“Inna Baba Coulibaly was born near the town of Dilly, close to the border between Mali and Mauritania. The region is known for its herds of long-horned zebu cattle and its numerous holy sites dedicated to Sufi saints who are venerated for their piety, wisdom and tolerance.

Born into the noble Coulibaly clan, Inna Baba claims she inherited her love of singing from her mother, Anna Coulibaly. But the Fula consider singing to be unseemly for a woman of noble birth, and Anna Coulibaly was the target of much criticism, even magical spells. She did everything she could to persuade her daughter not to sing, reminding her of the old belief that young girls who sang were destined to live short lives. But she couldn’t stop Inna Baba, who delighted in stealing off with her friends after sunset to sing under the light of the desert moon.

After Inna Baba was married at the age of 14, her husband’s family managed to silence her for a while. But a saviour arrived in the unlikely figure of the commandant of Dilly, who arrived in her village one day looking for singers and musicians to appear at some prestigious Independence Day celebration. He demanded to hear the local talent and threatened dire consequences if no one came forward. Finally the village relented and four of their best musicians were chosen, including Inna Baba, who won first prize at the festival. After relocating to the capital Bamako in the late 1960s with her husband, she began to perform regularly, winning further accolades in the country’s famous Biennale competitions with her traditional Fula, Bamana and Soninke songs.”

Enter: Ali Farka Toure 

“This EP is the result of those recordings – a priceless snapshot of three Malian legends in their prime”

“Inna Baba was a regular visitor to the Bamako home of Amadou Djeli Ba, a fellow native of Dilly and master of the ngoni or traditional lute. It was there that she met Ali Farka Toure who was already famous thanks to his regular broadcasts on Radio Mali. It took her some time to overcome her shyness and come out from behind the door where she would hide, singing the songs softly to herself while the two great musicians played together. After a while, Ali Farka Toure suggested they all go to the Radio Mali studio and record a few songs. This EP is the result of those recordings – a priceless snapshot of three Malian legends in their prime.

Following these recordings, Inna Baba Coulibaly travelled back to Dilly to perform in front of President Moussa Traore and a delegation of high-ranking officials. The visit was part of a national tour that the Malian dictator undertook to try and bind his vast and disparate nation more closely together. At every stop on the way, the best local musicians and singers were chosen to represent their town and their region. Inna Baba was the choice of Sidi Modibo Kané, the revered marabout or holy man of Dilly. After an unforgettable performance her fame, already ample following the success of her Radio Mali recordings, continued to grow.

In the years that followed, Inna Baba joined the Franco-Malian group Manden Foly and toured throughout Mali, France, and the rest of the world, appearing on Malian and French national TV on numerous occasions. Despite her fame and the constant invitations to appear at weddings, celebrations, festivals and concerts, she tries to spend as much at as possible back home in Dilly, to keep the flame of her ancestral Fula culture and her love of her Sahelian home, burning bright.

“Music is my passion,” she says, in a wonderful video made by the Mali-based NGO Instruments4Africa, “It’s my destiny…Young musicians must respect our music, and not destroy our tradition.”

Four very special songs 

The four songs on the EP paint a vivid picture of life on the sahel or ‘shore’ of the great Sahara desert.  ‘Sahal’ is a love song to the young men who venture out into the wilderness with their great herds of cattle; it expresses the joy and celebration sparked by their return, the gossip and excitement too as those young men look for a young bride among the prettiest girls in the village.  “He who doesn’t have cows – I don’t extol him, or speak to him,” warns the song.

In‘Ndalen Koten’ (‘Let’s Go’), Ali Farka Toure salutes various people in his life, people he esteems and feels gratitude towards, such as Bela Boré, who first introduced Ali Farka to Malian national radio.

‘Allah Holam’ (‘May God Show Me’) is a paean to Sidi Modibo Kané, the great marabout of Dilly. Inna Baba calls on the great religious heroes of the Fula people – Sékou Oumarou and Sékou Amadou – to implore God to show her Sidi Modibo, so that he may bless her. The song is a passionate illustration of the importance of those Sufi saints in the lives of ordinary Malians.

Finally, ’Zaglia’ (‘Pilgrimage’) is a celebration of pilgrimage, one of the duties or pillars of Islam. The song depicts the bustling devotion of the day when pilgrims leave for Dilly to venerate the saint, with its celebrations, its readings of the koran, its feasting and goat racing. “When God has chosen you, be proud of it,” goes the song, “Pilgrimage above all else.”

 For more information please contact: press@worldcircuit.co.uk

Have a listen ahead of time with this exclusive Soundcloud link: https://soundcloud.com/world-circuit-records/sets/inna-baba-coulibaly-with-ali-farka-toure-sahel/s-EuolL

Photo Credit: World Circuit Records

Sam Garbett is Public Affairs Coordinator for the Mali Development Group – www.malidg.org.uk.

To get in touch with Sam for further information he’d be happy to hear from you at sam.garbett@malidg.org.uk. 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.