Africa is not just the root of the Blues, it’s the root of all human life. The mother continent has more in it than just memories of a glorious past. After African music traveled with slaves to the American continent and became later the Blues, it came back to motherland years later. Desert musicians discovered western instruments and played their folk music on them.

400 years ago, Mali was the Manden Kurufaba one of the richest empires in the world, where music was a royalty’s ritual. Today, after everything was stripped away from it in war politics and corrupt economics, the music remains enriched by the heritage. There’s a myriad of internationally renowned Malian artists, playing a beautiful blend of blues and desert music which is currently witnessing a rebirth as ‘Desert Blues’ by a new wave of artists like Tinariwen and Tamikrest. Desert Blues first got the world’s attention through Ali Farke Toure and it only evolved from there.

Below is a list of artists and songs to get you introduced to this country’s beautiful music culture, which we hope will send you off on a personal journey of crate digging and exploration.

(Full YouTube Playlist at the bottom)


1- Tamikrest – Tisnant An Chatma

2- Oumou Sangaré – Moussolou

3- Rokia Traore – Sabali

4- Afel Bocoum – Alasida (Alkibar)

5- Ali Farka Touré – Savane

6- Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Abe Sumaya (Live on KEXP)

7- Songhoy Blues – Sobour

8- Samba Toure – Chiri Hari

9- TERAKAFT – Alone

10- Mamani Keita – Kanou

11- Habib Koite – Sirata

12- Afel Bocum & Alkibar – Inkey

13- Kandia Kouyaté – Sambayaya

14- Fatoumata Diawara – Sonkolon

15- Tartit – Tabey Tarate

16. Tinariwen  – Ténéré Tàqqàl


17. Amadou & Mariam feat. Manu Chao – Sénégal Fast Food



YouTube Playlist: