Malian singer Khaira Arby has earned the nickname “Nightingale of the North” for her high, powerful voice. The Timbuktu native weaves her dazzling vocals through a sinewy, transfixing mix of traditional melodies known as “desert blues,” which are performed on Malian and Western instruments.
Arby’s music is socially-minded thematically and in its call-and-response structure. On her new EP, Chini Chini, the chanteuse places a celebratory wedding ballad between a song about unemployment and an ode to the first female mayor in northern Mali. (That jazz- and funk-inflected tribute to Mayor Oumou Sall Seck, titled “Oumousall,” is available for download above.)
Khaira Arby performs at Le Poisson Rouge on Thursday night. If you can't make it to LPR, watch the concert at 7:45 P.M. below.
In the meantime, check out Arby and her band performing “Sourgou” in the video below.