Californian singer-songwriter & harmonica player JeConte has teamed up with a number of musicians from Mali to produce Mali Blues, the debut album from JeConte & the Mali Allstars on Soulnow Records. While some stability has returned to the northern region of Mali, Islamic militants remain at large. Nearly 400,000 Malians are still in refugee camps, but many are returning home to fill the streets with music once again. Recorded in Bamako during the coup d’etat in 2012, Mali Blues offers a message of peace from many of the musicians directly affected by the uprising.
JeConte assembled a mighty band for this release. The Mali Allstars are made up of Boubacar Sidibé (harmonica, rhythm guitar), Adama Dramé (n’goni, lead electric guitar), Mahamadou Koné (percussion, calabash) and Sekou Bah (bass). The guests on Mali Blues are equally impressive and include Souleymane Ann, Khaira Arby, Sidiki Camara, Doussou Koulibaly, Bassekou Kouyaté, Moustafa Kouyaté, and Vieux Farka Touré. Together they’re building awareness for the culture and people of Mali with the release of this record. A percentage of proceeds will go directly to JeConte’s non-profit organization Save Our Universal Language Now.
SOULNOW is helping Mada Souadou Diabaté, Toumani Diabaté’s sister, who runs the ‘Futbol Center for Hope’ in Begnuieda, Mali by giving the FIFA sponsored community center resources for development. The center teaches young women soccer skills while encouraging healthy living. As a partner of ‘One World Futbol,’ SOULNOW is helping raise funds to expand the center for future generations. The commitment to bettering the lives of Malians is at the heart of Mali Blues.
In a set of solid grooves, JeConte & the Mali Allstars combine West African music with reggae, funk and New Orleans R&B. “Le Monde pour la Paix” translates in English to “The World for Peace” and finds Vieux Farka Touré asking the people of Mali to come together for the future of the country and her children. Khaira Arby calls for peace and unity for all the tribes of Mali while Bassekou Kouyaté digs into some terrific n’goni rhythms.
Check out the video for “Le Monde pour la Paix” below and lookout for Mali Blues on Soulnow Records. JeConte & the Mali Allstars are currently on tour in Germany with Winter and Spring 2014 tours in the US to follow, so keep an eye on their concert calendar.