Time for a slice of the past. Assane N’Diaye is a griot from Senegal who is hailed as one of the country’s most gifted singers. One listen to “Xarit” above, taken from the album of the same name, and you will hear why he is so highly regarded. In Jollof, the lingua franca of Senegal, a griot is a Ngewal – someone who records history through song. His high and sharp vocal register is a part of Ngewal singing. For N’Diaye singing is like breathing and is a necessary part of life. In an interview with Jamati, Assane N’Diaye admits he is a sentimental person who is drawn to romantic ballads that are sung in French and Arabic. He also believes his best writing is done by the sea before dawn.
Senegal is famous for mbalax music. Some of the most notable mbalax artists are Youssou N’Dour, Thione Seck and Ismael Lô. This energetic style of music is still very popular among the young and old in Senegal and Gambia. The blend of traditional African and modern Western musical styles makes mbalax unique and unlike anything else you’ve heard. Etoile de Dakar is believed to be the first group to incorporate traditional sabar rhythms into their modern songs. And while Youssou N’Dour is responsible for mbalax’s evolution, many names and groups play mbalax music today. For more information on mbalax, check out African Music Safari.
Luckily for us, Assane N’Diaye is starting to get more attention across the globe. He still records and tours and recently, Sterns Music and KSF Productions reissued his classic Xarit album digitally. At last this lost music is available for everyone again. Sterns releases and re-releases so much essential African music and this is another gem. Watch Assane N’Diaye’s video for “Xarit,” which is French for friendship, above and grab Xarit wherever digital music is sold.