Africa And The Blues, Pt 2


When it comes to conversation about the blues, some here in North American will naturally infuse the discussion with iconic names such as Arthur Blake, Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Lead Belly, Mamie Smith and a host of others notables. Not until recently, has the talk broadly tied American blues to its real origins – West Africa.

When talking about West African blues and its role as the birthplace of the genre, as well as its imprint on North American blues, the music of Mali’s Grammy Award-winning band Tinariwen belongs in the conversation.

Tinariwen, often singing about their life struggles because of oppression, is a group of internationally recognized Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert Region, formed in 1979 in Algeria while displaced as a result of war in the region. Not only is their music bluesy, it’s ripe with rock n’ roll and sustains a real trance-like quality.

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Tinariwen also helps to sustain the geographical musical conversation between Africa and its American counterparts in the Deep South, Chicago and today, stages all across the globe.

The music of Tinariwen, fits generously into the musical framework commonly known as the standard 12-bar blues while maintaining strong ties to its African origins. The result powerfully illumines how the blues, first crafted in Africa and now around the world, celebrates how music bridges diverse cultures and traditions.

As musicians from varied traditions around the world explore blues-oriented collaborations with African and North American performers, a unique narrative is unfolding and it’s transforming the art of music-making not only between Africa and the U.S. but in Europe as well.

Tinariwen – February 2014 Release “Emmaar”; 2011 Grammy Award: Best World Music Album “Tassili”

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