The disintegrating political situation and developing war in Mali is frightening and hard to grasp. Militants in the North have declared Sharia law and among their many decrees, have banned music (other than adhan, the traditional Islamic calls to prayer). Naturally, this alone is of major concern for the Malian music industry, particularly the artists from the North who've been threatened with torture or death if they were to perform home, or even return home, in some cases.
So, led by Fatoumata Diawara, a fast-rising star of the Malian music scene who appeared both at the most recent iteration of GlobalFEST and on my Best of 2012 List, led a brigade of many of Mali's greatest artists, named Voices United for Mali, in doing what they do best, making music, and this time for a cause. Their song "Mali-Ko," which means "Peace," features Amadou et Mariam, Oumou Sangare, Vieux Farka Toure, Khaira Arby, Toumani Diabate, Habib Koite, Bassekou Kouyate, Afel Bocoum, Tiken Jah, and more.
You can watch the video for the "Mali-ko" on YouTube and listen to the song and see an English translation of the song lyrics (which are originally sung in several regional languages and French), as well as names of each singer, on Voices United for Mali's Soundcloud Page. Proceeds from ads generated by the video will be donated to Malian refugee charities (the UN is anticipating a large-scale refugee crisis as the war in the North escalates), and representation from many of the artists involved has suggested that appropriate charities for fans to donate to include Doctors Without Borders, Medecins du Monde, the Red Cross, and the UNHCR. On that note, rumor has it that there's a big multi-artist tour coming together soon, so keep an eye out for that -- it certainly won't be one to miss.
Fatoumata Diawara Image (c) World Circuit Records