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Songhoy Blues On World Cafe

Songhoy Blues.
Josh Cheuse
Courtesy of the artist
Songhoy Blues.

Picture what would happen if Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin met Ali Farka Touré in a garage in West Africa, and you've got an idea of what my guests today sound like. The band is Songhoy Blues. They're from Mali, and their new album is titled Résistance.

I talked with the band's lead singer, Aliou Touré. He is originally from the northern Mali city of Gao, but fled south after Islamist militants and rebels took over parts of northern Mali in 2012, causing a massive political crisis and banning music.

Aliou met his three bandmates (two of whom had also escaped crisis in the north) in Mali's capital city of Bamako. They started playing music together to entertain and comfort their fellow refugees, making their way around Bamako's club circuit. In 2015, they released a debut album as Songhoy Blues, called Music in Exile, and became something of an international sensation.

Songhoy Blues landed slots supporting bands like Alabama Shakes and Damon Albarn of Blurand Gorillaz, as well as festival appearances at Bonaroo and Glastonbury.

Hear Songhoy Blues perform live music off their new album, Résistance, in today's World Cafe session.

Copyright 2017 XPN

Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.