‘Songhoy’ peoples form an African ethnolinguistic group with some three million members. Certain subgroups are nomadic, where others are settled along rivers and lakes joining Mali with Niger and Nigeria.
Songhoy Blues formed in 2012, after a Jihadist group forced the musicians to flee their homes in Timbuktu, in the northern part of Mali. After settling and meeting in the southern capital city of Bamako, the group formed with the intention of keeping the music of the north alive for fellow refugees.
Approached by Western musicians Damon Albarn and Nick Zinner in 2013, Songhoy Blues quickly became the face of a burgeoning ‘Desert Blues’ movement. The band list their influences as Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, John Lee Hooker, as well as their “main diet” of hip-hop and R&B. (source: https://songhoyblues.com/story/) It is interesting to track the cultural cross-pollination needed for such influences to travel back and forth across the Atlantic!
The band’s story forms the backbone of the 2016 documentary ‘They Will Have to Kill Us First’.
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