Category Archives: Video

The Healing Music of Habib Koite, Modern Griot

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Habib Koite

Habib Koite’,  of Mali by way of Senegal, with his band Bamada, is one of my most beloved and favorite musicians.  In the past I’ve bought doubles of his CDs because I wear them out with constant play.

He’s one of those externally beautiful people whose angelic visage seems to communicate the positivity flowing beneath the surface.

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Habib Koite 2015

He plays his guitar in a beautifully unique way; he tunes his instrument to the pentatonic scale and plays on open strings, which is how one plays on the kamale n’goni,  N’goni are traditional West African rhythm harps.

The n’goni have been in existence since 1352, in the court of Mansa Musa, the great ruler of Mali.   It is believed to have evolved into the banjo in North America after Mande people were exported there as slaves.

There are three main types, the djeli, the donso and the kamale.

The djeli n’goni were traditionally used by griots to accompany singing.  The donso (hunter’s harp)  are larger than the kamale n’goni and have six strings,

The smaller kamale n’goni (young man’s harp)  have four or eight strings and are tuned a fourth higher than other n’goni.

They are a more modern addition to the West African stringed instrument family, introduced in the 1960s and made popular in the 80s and 90s in the Wassalou style of music,

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Kamale n’goni

In Habib Koite’s songs and  style of playing you can hear a blend of  the Malian Wassoulou and dannsa musical styles, as well as African-American blues, and Spanish flamenco.

In fact, in 1999 Habib and American bluesman Eric Bibb toured in support of the Putumayo compilation Mali to Memphis, which celebrated and paid tribute to the connections between Malian and American blues music.

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Putomayo’s Mali to Memphis

The predominant style played by Habib is based on the danssa, a popular rhythm from his native city of Keyes. He calls his version danssa doso, a Bambara term he coined that combines the name of the popular rhythm with the word for hunter’s music (doso), one of Mali’s most powerful and ancient musical traditions. “I put these two words together to symbolize the music of all ethnic groups in Mali. I’m curious about all the music in the world, but I make music from Mali. In my country, we have so many beautiful rhythms and melodies. Many villages and communities have their own kind of music. Usually, Malian musicians play only their own ethnic music, but me, I go everywhere. My job is to take all these traditions and to make something with them, to use them in my music.”–Habibkoite.com

Music critics worldwide have dubbed Koite a modern griot; this isn’t far-fetched as he hails from “a noble line of Khassonké griots, , traditional troubadours who provide wit, wisdom and musical entertainment at social gatherings and special events.” (http://www.ifas.org.za/)

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I’ve heard fans describe him and his band as “West African Sufis” for the vibrant spiritual quality of their sound.

I don’t know if there is some factual basis to that opinion, but I do know how uplifted and soothed I feel when I listen to, sing, or dance to their music.

The song I’m featuring here, “Sirata” is one of my all-time favorites.

It was featured on “Mali to Memphis” as well as Koite’s 2001 CD “Ma Ya”.

It’s not a lullaby, but can lull you with its spiritual, somehow healing beauty. This song, has been known to drive grown men to tears.  Yes–for real!

My son, Ibrahim, now 12, and I saw Koite’ and Bamada perform at Wolf Trap in the late winter of 2005. Ibrahim was under two years old then; it was his first concert,  other than those of his Guinean dancer/drummer/ fire-eater father’s, which he attended as an infant.

Our seats were in the front row.  He was transfixed!

At first Ibrahim sat next to me, but when the entire audience got up to dance and stayed up for the rest of the concert, he attached himself to me.

He spent the rest of the night dancing and swaying with me, his legs wrapped around my waist or hip, his eyes trained on the stage.

At one point Habib Koite and Ibrahim locked eyes as Habib leaned down and played his guitar directly to him.

He nodded to me and smiled, then moved on.   It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say I felt we’d been blessed.

Days later Ibrahim asked for both a guitar and a balafon.

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Ibrahim at 18 months old. The young balafoniste, just like his Uncle Ibrahima Diabate, Master Balafonist of Guinea, for whom he’s named.

How could I say no?

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They call him Gitar Badji. 2006– A year later he was still at it. He is wearing a traditional Malian boubou sent to us by a friend who lived in Mali at the time.

Habib Koite latest album,  Soô (which translates to home) was released in 2014.    Soô takes a direct and loving look at Koite’s homeland of Mali, a country torn apart by violence and terrorism over the last few years.

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Habib Koite, 2014

The title of the CD also symbolizes the dream of home for a man who makes his fortune away from friends and family for long stretches of time.

Ever the touring road warriors, Koite and the new lineup of his band, Bamada, are in the midst of a world tour.

I hope to take Ibrahim to one of their U.S. shows in 2016, in either Washington, DC or Raleigh, NC.

In May of 2015 they performed at the Africa Festival in Germany.  The 90 minute video below showcases their performance.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The embedded videos below were removed because the Automatic Play option could not be disabled. Click the link below to enjoy the concert and the bonus interview in full.)

HABIB KOITE and BAMADA: AFRICA FEST 2015

A bonus!: This interview with Habib Koite (in French) at Africa Festival 2015.

Enjoy!  Be well!

~Maura Alia Badji

Sweet Lullaby

Sweet Lullaby

What could be better than being gently read to sleep? Being gently sung to sleep, of course.

Before I had a child with whom to share lullabies, I fell in love with Deep Forest’s “Sweet Lullaby”, which was originally released in 1992 as a single and then in re-mixed versions in 1994.

Despite the widespread belief, bolstered by the video, that ‘Sweet Lullaby” was based on a traditional African song, Deep Forest, a French world music/ethnic electronica group based the song on a traditional Baegu lullaby. The song, called “Rorogwela”,comes from Malaita Island of the Solomon Islands and uses a vocal sample originally recorded by ethnomusicologist Hugo Zemp in 1970 and later released by UNESCO as part of their Musical Sources collection.

The lyrics refer to a young child being comforted by his older brother or sister despite the loss of one or both of their parents.

Sasi sasi o to aro aro
O angi si nau boroi amu
Ni ma oe e fasi korona
Dolali dasa na, lao dai afuimae
Afuta guau mauri, Afuta wela inomae
Sasi sasi ae o angisi nau
Boroi nima oe e fasi koro na
Dolali dasa na, lao dai afuimae
Afuta guau mauri, Afuta wela inomae

ENGLISH INTERPRETATION
Young brother, young brother you be quiet
Although you are crying to me
Your father has left us
He has gone to the place of the dead
Protect the head of the living, Protect the orphan child
Young brother, young brother hey? Although you are crying to me
Your father has left us
He has gone to the place of the dead
Protect the head of the living, protect the orphan child.

Lullaby

I never looked for the translation before tonight; I just loved the melody. Now that I know the meaning of the words, I can’t say I find them particularly comforting.

Perhaps something was lost in translation, or maybe my Americanized idea of comfort differs from that of the Baegu.  Perhaps the Baegu find comfort in having an older person give them a dose of reality with a tender melody?  No matter, I still love this song.

At the core of the melody is the poignant voice of Afunakwa who comes from the island of Malaita (region: Fataleka) in the Solomon Islands. It was her singing that was recorded in 1969 by ethnomusicologist Hugo Zemp in an effort to archive the traditions of the Baegu fading culture.

lullaby

When my son was born I was happy to share it with him; although he preferred Guinean & English lullabies as a small child, “Sweet Lullaby” was also one of his favorites.

Do you have a favorite lullaby?

~Maura Alia Badji

Sources: Wikipedia, YouTube, lyrictranslate.com, whosampled.com

Alyesha Wise: Dreaming Life, Living Her Dream

 

Alyesha Wise

Alyesha Wise: Dreaming Life, Living Her Dream

“I had a dream last night that the government started questioning the income of independent artists & requiring a license for us to do what we do.

I woke up from that dream knowing that such a thing could happen in real life (Don’t doubt these fools these days). And that my inner God will always be my “license.”

And, of this world, I will always be unafraid.”

–Alyesha Wise

When I asked Alyesha Wise if I could have some of her work to share here during my Dream Residency for Ione’s Annual Dream Festival, she sent me a selection that included her TEDxPasadenaWomen talk and a Button Poetry spoken word performance.

At first I didn’t see that what she sent me :fit” into the theme of dreams/dreaming, but I kept listening. Soon the hazy clouds of unknowing parted; I saw that all she had sent me had to do with dreams, were indeed the stuff of dreams brought into reality.

Alyesha Wise, poet, writer, spoken word artist, is the living embodiment of the dreams she had as a young girl, a young Black girl who dreamed of being a writer. Listen to her TEDx talk and you will hear her speak of the little girl who dreamed of a women who was all about creating poems, and never taking any shit. A woman whose words created her world.

Hear her poem “To This Black Woman Body, Part I”, and you will learn how a skinny Black girl, who once doubted her right to claim womanliness, who once feared the repercussions that came running after a girl “walking like a woman”, who then came to create and live the dream of a Black woman loving and accepting herself, including her particular Black woman’s body as it is, as she lives in it.

I see the acts of imagining, creating, and inhabiting a reality you and others did not at first see as some of the most rewarding, important, and radical acts of dreaming. Dreaming into your life, living into your dreams.

I invite you to listen, learn, savor and share the words of Alyesha Wise’s dreams.

Alyesha Wise is a published Poet, Teaching Artist and TEDx Speaker who launched her artistic career in Philadelphia, Pa.  Currently residing in Los Angeles, Alyesha was the 2014 DPL Grand Slam Champion and a member of the 2014 and 2015 DPL Slam Teams. She is also a 2-time Women of the World Poetry Slam finalist, a 2-time Philadelphia Grand Slam Champion and Assistant-coach of the Get Lit Youth Slam Team in L.A., who placed 3rd in the world in 2014.

Some of her additional highlights include, but aren’t limited to, a 2012 interview with American Film Director, Ron Howard – An artist feature in the Google Interstellar Project, specifically a “Time Capsule” documentary presented by Google Play and Christopher Nolan, in conjunction with the hit movie, Interstellar – and being told by co-founder of Essence Magazine, Russell Goings, “In All, You Are Awesome.”

More info about Ms. Wise can be found at: http://www.MsWiseDecision.com

TEDX Talk: Raising Her By Raising Myself

Button Poetry: Alyesha Wise – “To This Black Woman Body, Part I

 

~Maura Alia Badji

Ingrid Lucia–Dreams Aren’t Only for the Young

Dreams Aren’t Only for the Young–Ingrid Lucia– Live@ Snug Harbor, NOLA, Filmed by Kristen Fouquet

Ingrid Lucia is a jazz vocalist and musician based in New Orleans, LA; she is the leader of the Flying Neutrinos, a band founded by her parents in the 1980s.

Ingrid Lucia
INGRID LUCIA

Of their first CD, “I’d Rather Be on New Orleans”, the Washington Post said, “There are times when Ingrid Lucia and the Flying Neutrinos’ album I’d Rather Be in New Orleans is enticing enough to make even a staunch New Yorker feel homesick for the Big Easy. A sultry, behind-the-beat voice, a combination of sometimes languid, sometimes syncopated rhythms, and lots of evocative brass all conspire to make this a picture postcard of an album.”

Ingrid Lucia and Kristen Fouquet have collaborated on projects before, most recently ” The Shotgun Sunday Series” postcard collection. See Kristin’s site Le Salon for more information.

 

KRISTIN FOUQUET

Kristin Fouquet is a writer and photographer in the lovely city of New Orleans. Her short fiction and fine art and street photography have been published widely online and in print. She is the author of Twenty Stories (Rank Stranger Press 2009), a collection of short literary fiction, Rampart and Toulouse (Rank Stranger Press, 2011), a novella and other stories, The Olive Stain and other stories (Hammer & Anvil Books, 2013), an e-chapbook, and the print version, The Olive Stain and other stories (Le Salon Press, 2013).

Her virtual home is http://www.fouquet.cc/kristin/LeSalon.html

~Maura Alia Badji

Ancestor Messages in Our Dreams with Antranette Doe

Ancestor Messages in Our Dreams

Among the maternal branches of my family tree is a cluster of women, myself among them, who emerged from their mothers’ wombs with two notable gifts: a caul, a thin membrane that is part of the amniotic sac, stretched across their faces like a veil, and the gift of second sight. This second gift most often expressed itself in prophetic dreams and the ability to “visit” with family members who had passed on.

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Sometimes these visits occurred within dreams, through lucid dreaming, waking dream states, or as my mother would often put it, “Your great-grandmother sat on my bed last night.” For me it was a gift that took some getting used to; it scared me as a child, but I came to see it for the treasure it was by the time I was a young woman. Ancestors4

Let me be clear: you do not need to have been born with a caul to have prophetic dreams or receive visits or messages from your ancestors. I believe these are gifts that can be sought out and nurtured. When I began to receive messages and visits from ancestors I did not recognize I subsequently began purposeful research of the practice of reaching out to and communicating with one’s ancestors.

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  Happily my research led me to Antranette Doe’s personal and Ancestry group pages where I’ve benefitted from her video posts, research, and personal experiences. Antranette is a Psychic-Medium, Spiritual Counselor, and Social Worker, BASW based in Philadelphia, PA. She also hosts a Ancestral Pathways Facebook group. Before I share one of her videos on Ancestor Messages in Dreams, I’d like to let her tell you about herself: ‘Hello! A bit about me, my spiritual abilities are Divinely given passed down to me by my Ancestors and our Creator. I am a natural born Medium. I offer several spiritual readings, from Ancestor, Womb Healing, Angel, Love life, Past life, After-life, Spiritual Growth, and even Group readings, healing Circles and Workshops! I am a Healer through Channeling messages and calling in Energy, Divine Healing Light from Creation and Word Power. I pride myself on being a Wife, Mama and Social Worker. My work experience in the human service field for over past decade has equipped me with the know how to deliver social services to individuals, families and groups. I am very much dedicated and committed to empowering dear Souls to live a fully expressed and healed life this time around! I am so honored to connect in Spirit with You!”  

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Connect with Antranette Doe: 

Twitter: @antranettedoe

Facebook: Live Divinely with Antranette 

Web site: Live Divinely 

Connect with Maura Alia Badji:

Twitter: @MoxieB

Facebook: The Moxie Bee Fan Page