A Malian's Musings about Music and Mali…
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“At Last” by Etta James

1961 was a great year. Etta’s magic was first brought to my attention during my college years as a good friend of mine was rehearsing to sing a live cover of “At Last”.

That voice…

Title: At Last / Artist: Etta James / Album: At Last (1961)

“Dreamy Smiles” by The Dining Rooms

There is an infinite number of formulas used to create music.  Truly great musicians have a knack for coming up with new formulas rather than staying in the tried and tested creative lanes.  It is in this spirit of experimentation and innovation that bands like “The Dining Rooms” shine the brightest.

Jazzy, sensual and dripping with emotion, “Dreamy Smiles” is a friendly reminder of how incredible “that smile” was. 

This song is beautiful enough to take you back in time, but short enough to let you to move on.  

Nostalgia without the sadness.

Just how it should be.

Title: Dreamy Smiles / Artist: The Dining Rooms / Album: Tre (2003)

Listen on Apple Music

“Sambolera” by Khadja Nin

Our Queen from Burundi.

One the smallest countries on the continent, Burundi is located in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.  Unfortunately, its relatively small size did not spare the country from experiencing the political instability and resulting violence that has plagued many African countries since the 1960s when most of them became independent.  Between 1993 and 2005, Burundi witnessed an armed conflict that cost hundreds of thousands of lives and cemented its economic position as one of the 10 poorest nations of the World.

In the face of tragedy, especially one as self-inflicted as a civil war, there must be a few who are willing to stand up and speak up.  Khadja Nin does both with “Sombolera Mayi Son” as she questions the logic and morality of her country’s civil war, or any war, anywhere for that matter.

This song is majestic not only in its content but also in its delivery.  Khadja Nin’s message is delivered in a voice exudes warmth and power.  The first time I heard this, something seemed to be telling me that I needed to listen……that I needed to understand this message.  I didn’t need to speak a word of Swahili to feel the positivity emanating from this song.

“One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one” (Agatha Christie 1890-1976)”.


Title: Sambolera / Artist: Khadja Nin / Album: Sambolera (1996)

“Can’t Get Over” by Dinner at The Thompson’s

Title: Can’t Get Over / Artist: Dinner at The Thompson’s / Album: Lifetime Planet Earth (2007)

“Sodade” by Cesaria Evora

“Sodade” in a general sense, refers to a feeling of longing or yearning.  In the context of this song, it specifically refers to “homesickness”.  Those of us who have spent most of our lives away from home will find special meaning in this song, as it reminds us of those moments when you get the urge to just leave everything behind and simply run home.

A beautiful song from a beautiful place.

Cape Verde

Title: Sodade / Artist: Cesaria Evora / Album: Miss Perfumado (1992)

Listen on Apple Music

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