A Malian's Musings about Music and Mali…

“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

“Ha Dias” by Luca Mundaca

Luca Mundaca built a bridge between indigenous Brazilian sounds, jazz and folk.  I guess that gives her the right to zoom back and forth between the three without any sort of restriction.  To be clear, this is a statement of fact and not a complaint.

In fact I have been listening to “Ha Dias” for years now and I still can’t find fault with it: No vocal lapses, no missteps on the drums and not a single misplaced note on her guitar.  Luca Mundaca is successful in creating the illusion that her performance is unrehearsed, organic, almost spontaneous.  

There is a certain clarity about this song I’ve never been able to define.  I’m guessing it’s probably better that way.

Title: Ha Dias /Artist: Luca Mundaca / Album: Day by Day (2005)

Listen on Apple Music

“In Love with You” by Erykah Badu & Stephen Marley

“In love with you” is the result of an acoustic and bass guitar, a Queen of soul and reggae royalty.  Ms Badu and Stephen Marley combine to give us music in best form: live, heartfelt and effortless. 

What I love about this song, is that it doesn’t sound rehearsed.  You get the feeling that the two artists are at “band practice” just having a jam session that is slowly turning into something special. 

The melody on the guitar and the bass stay pretty constant but the artists give us a real exhibition of their vocal skills.  Ms Badu shows us her range and delivers in hear usual smooth tones, while Mr Marley keeps his message raw and unpolished.  This contrast makes for a very unique sound and makes me hope they collaborate again.  The chemistry between these two is definitely real…just listen to the adlibs…..gorgeous.

Title: In Love with You / Artist: Erykah Badu x Stephen Marley / Album: Mama’s Gun (2000)

Listen on Apple Music

“Les Nuits” by Nightmares on Wax

I was dead, then alive.  Weeping, then laughing. – Rumi

Title: Les Nuits

Artist: Nightmares on Wax 

Album: Now is the time (2014)

Listen on Apple Music

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