Khaira Arby Rocks
Just got back from the Khaira Arby concert here in Colorado Springs. The students in my Introduction to Folklife course went with me. It was awesome. It was great in an everyday sense and also in a “great to go along with my course” sense. She is awesome, has a great band, and is really fun to watch and to listen to. Because of rain earlier today the concert had to move inside (it was going to be on the lawn on campus here) but the hall was comfortable and it worked out and sounded great. I am not an expert in the music of Mali (or anyplace), but I like Ali Farka Touré’s music and I guess that is a start. Khaira Arby and her band are in the same basic territory. The main difference is that she and her band rock more and her voice is an amazing, expressive instrument. Her band is extremely talented and they came off as a very well rehearsed unit. Really great.
The concert was a perfect compliment to a film that I showed in my class. It is a documentary on the adobe architecture of Mali called Heavenly Mud. I love to teach vernacular architecture with this film but one of its fringe benefits is that it has great music in its soundtrack. Khaira Arby is from the region near Timbuktu and her music is recognizably akin to the music in the film (which shows in detail the remarkable architecture of both Timbuktu and the equally amazing city of Djenné) This provided a point of contact between the class and the concert. On top of that, yesterday and today our focus has been music. What could be better?
Her MySpace page suggests that this was her last concert in the U.S. Her next stop is the U.K. for three shows, then two in Belgium, then one in Poland (at the Africa Museum!). Hopefully some of my friends and readers will have a chance to see her. She and her band would be great at the Lotus Festival in Bloomington one of these years.
Someone needs to make a English wikipedia page for her!
Here is a music video that shows her singing and the architecture around Timbuktu.
Here is NPR coverage of Khaira Arby. http://www.npr.org/artists/134000718/khaira-arby
It is funny to see online that she is represented on her tour by Rock Paper Scissors, the world music agency headquartered in Bloomington. Maybe the bodes well for a Lotus visit?