Stories: Music

  • Meet Ami, Mali’s biggest female rapper

    There aren’t many female rappers in Mali. The West African country is known for the bedouin ballads of Tinariwen, the enduring voice of Khaira Arby, and the new-rock beats of Songhoy Blues. But Mali is not so famous for its rap scene—and even less so for its female rappers. Ami is an exception. “There is...

  • Sierra Leone’s Politically Minded Pop Star Captures His Country’s Ear

    When singer Emmerson Bockarie swaggered on stage on a recent evening here, the crowd in front of him seemed to twinkle – hundreds of tiny flames flickering on and off in the balmy darkness. This crowd wasn’t waving lighters or glowing blue cellphones, though, but matches, which flamed and fizzled in rapid bursts so that the venue appeared...

  • Hidden Treasures of a Remote Record Shop

    Batbold Bavuu began collecting records by accident 10 years ago, rescuing them from rubbish bins at the music college where he was a student. Those discs formed the basis of his collection and the inspiration for his new shop, Dund Gol Records. The business started off in the corner of a children's library, tucked away in a tiny area with...

  • Sounds of the Maasai

  • No Rhythm Deficit in Zambia

    Zambians in Macha, located in the southern province of the country, rehearse for a friend's wedding. Lauren Bohn is currently reporting on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in Zambia on a fellowship with the International Reporting Project.

  • Voices Against Malaria

    Social Forces During my first weekend in Bamako, I learned that in Mali, music means a lot more than Top 40. It’s a way of life. And the people who make music—including traditional West African storytellers, called griots, and the more recent wave of pop music stars—can be powerful agents for change. Riding the...