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There are close links between West African music and song and the Blues of the Southern states -probably due to the origin of slaves from West Africa.

Recently Taj Mahal said there’s no doubt about the lineage….as he was collaborating with Kora player Toumani Diabate.

“Sometimes when people talk about the connections between Afro-American music and African music, they’re kind of stretching it,” he explains. “But this stuff clearly is a relative.” He tells of the time he started playing a particular blues song and his Malian bandmates knew instantly where the music was headed. “It’s almost like a relative who’s gone away for 500 years and gone through some metamorphosis and changes, but is still recognizable.

The kora’s complex and melodic fingerpicking style is seen as a forebear to the rich Delta blues guitar sound of Mississippi John Hurt and others. A lutelike instrument called the ngoni—played on Kulanjan by Bassekou Kouyate—is a predecessor to the banjo. To Taj’s ear, these old West African instruments “sing the same kind of way” as the guitars, banjos, and mandolins he’s always gravitated toward in his own music.

Toumani Diabate and Ballake Sissoko


Sona Jobarteh


Collaborations with Western artists are becoming more common


Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita

and the master of west african blues -Ali Farka Toure with Toumani once again