I went to a concert at Berea College last evening.WOW! Let me try to explain in a few words what the New York Times calls an “incredible” musical group from Mail, West Africa. Habib Koite the lead singer and guitarist is a graduate of  the National Institute of Arts in Bamako, Mali.  The group made their first tour outside of Africa during the summer of 1994. Speaking of their most recent album, Afriki , Habib reveals a deeper passion: using his music to inspire his own people.

People here in Africa are willing to risk death by trying to leave for Europe or the USA, but they are not willing to take that risk staying to develop something here in Africa…Life can be really good or really bad wherever you live. People need to understand that. Even though Mali is poor, we still have good quality of life; you can walk outside and smile and someone will smile back.

The group, formed in 1988 with young Malian musicians who had been friends since childhood, now makes friends for Mali all over the world with their music. Mali has rich and diverse musical traditions, which have many regional variations and styles that are particular to the local cultures. This made the concert experience last night a brief encounter with another of the world’s proud heritages, thanks to six very talented ambassadors using music as diplomacy.

Listen to their music :Habib and Bamada on MySpace