Dates and times
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Songhoy Blues were formed in 2012, when three musicians from northern Mali – Aliou Touré , Garba Touré and Oumar Touré (they are not related) – fled to the capital, Bamako, after the Islamist group Ansar Dine took control of the region, banning music among many other things. The three met in Bamako, recruited drummer Nathanael Dembelé, and a band began. “The band was born from war and sent into exile,” Aliou says, “so the second album is called Résistance, That’s the word to describe us keeping going, and building on what we said on the first album.”
One key thing that has changed since Songhoy Blues made their debut album, Music in Exile, is the state of Mali itself. While it is far from a peaceful place – in January, 80 people were killed when an explosives-laden vehicle was driven into a military camp near the town of Gao; also that month the Festival Au Désert in Timbuktu had to be cancelled for fear of an attack by Al Qaida – the situation is markedly different to the one when the three Tourés were forced into exile. In late April, the government in Bamako was able to install interim authorities in Timbuktu and Menaka in the north of the country, ending a standoff with Tuareg separatists that had prevented the transfer of power back to the government.
But some things do not change in the world of Songhoy Blues. Because whether Mali is in the grip of strife, or pulling itself back together, the essential message of the music made by the group remains the same, one of communicating the joy of music.
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