Today I discovered a fascinating musician named Boubacar Traoré, largely hailed as the founder of the modern Mali Blues style. Born in 1942 in Kayes, Mali, Boubacar was a superstar in his own country in the early 1960’s until political winds shifted and his music disappeared from the airwaves. Having never recorded an album nor been given royalties for his radio plays, Boubacar vanished from the spotlight until a surprise reemergence in 1987. His first album came in 1990 and he has enjoyed a vibrant cult following ever since.
Though Boubacar is a guitarist and vocalist, and not a harmonica player, his music was just too unique and too beautiful not to share. He plays a style of music that gets its rhythm and soul from Mali but its technique from American blues. It is a strikingly beautiful sound with musical phrases that will echo in your head long after the song ends. Now, to relate this back to the harmonica, Boubacar recorded his 2011 album, “Mali Denhou,” with harmonica virtuoso, Vincent Bucher. The video below is a performance they gave together at the 2012 Afrikafestival Hertme. Vincent’s harmonica is the perfect accompaniment to Boubacar’s soulful wailing and together they make absolutely beautiful art. Have a listen and enjoy!