A Malian's Musings about Music and Mali…

“Diarabi” by Amy Koita


Amy Koita

Diarabi: the Bambara word for love and I suppose the number one theme in all of music (probably art). Whatever love really is always up for debate but one thing is for sure: the concept has always brought out the very best in artists. Music, painting, writing (the list goes on) all tend to validate their expression using the presence, absence or desire for love.

There is great irony in the fact that I’m actually sitting here writing about a song I used to HATE with a passion when I was a kid.
I was deep in my Micheal Jackson phase and wasn’t trying to hear some lady singing about love. The song was released as the first single to Amy Koita’s album Tata Sira in 1986 and up to this day it is still considered one of Mali’s biggest ever hits.
So I didn’t really give the song a chance until I was about 19 (15 years after the songs release) and I met one of the engineers who actually mixed the song back in 1986. He took me through the process of making this record and on second listen I began to pay attention to the arrangement and how the instruments played off each other.

An electric guitar, a Ngoni (traditional West African guitar), a balafon (xylophone looking african percussion instrument) and a flute found a way to blend seamlessly into some pretty incredible melodies. The more I listen to this song the more I understand why it’s considered a classic.

I had the opportunity to make amends for my previous negativity towards the song (cut me some slack I was only 4 when this first came out) when I sat at the same table as Amy Koita at a charity event in Bamako in 2007. I was finally able to express to her my new found affection for “Diarabi”.

Welcome to Mali.

Purchase Song Here

Title: Diarabi
Artist: Amy Koita
Album: Tata Sira, 1986

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