plus Sway Machinery
Saturday, Mar 05, 2011 8:00 PM EST
(7:00 PM Doors)
The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY
21 years and over
Malians love her. Khaïra Arby was born in the village of Abaradjou in the Sahara Desert north of Timbuktu. Khaira’s parents came from different ethnic backgrounds, mother Songhai and father Berber. You can hear these cultures in her music; she sings in several languages. The instrumentation and rhythms are just as varied with electric guitar and bass, calabash, ngoni, traditional violin, and percussion creating a complex mixture of sound and structure. Some people compare the effect to the rhythms of the camel caravans crossing the Sahara, others to the cosmopolitan city of Timbuktu. To no one’s surprise, Khaïra won her first singing contest while just a schoolgirl and was chosen to represent Mali internationally. Not being from a musical family, her father discouraged her continuing her career and she married. But after 10 years of marriage Khaira divorced and returned to Timbuktu and her musical interests. By her mid twenties, Khaïra had made her first recording with the Orchestre Regional de Tombouctou and after a short time was invited to sing with the famous Orchestre Badema in Bamako, the nation’s capitol. She continued to earn her stripes beside such Malian stars as her cousin, Ali Farka Touré and the widely influential Fissa Maïga. Since 1990 Khaïra has focused all her energies on her music. With three albums in her own name and a fourth recently released in August 2010 she is the Voice of Mali’s North. Khaïra sings in many desert traditions and her music takes the listener on an audio journey across the essence of Mali and Tombouctou, a meeting of compass points, religions, cultures, past and present. She sings praise songs, blues songs, religious songs, songs about love, war and peace, family and the lives of women. She expresses her pride in the history and struggles of her desert homeland and its people.