Bringing The World Home To You

© 2023 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount 91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton 94.1 Lumberton 99.9 Southern Pines
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sidi Toure: A Reverent Smile In Song

Sidi Toure.
Courtesy of the artist
Sidi Toure.

It's become virtually impossible to talk about the music of Sidi Touré without referencing the governmental crisis in his home country of Mali. The weight and particulars of Touré's work are rooted and steeped in that region, all of which casts a heavy shadow over his unofficial ambassadorship, but nothing standing could darken the intention or spirit of his music.

"Ni See Ay Ga Done," from this year's Koïma, is warm and connective, transcendent of whatever short fence language could attempt to place around a song. You don't need to understand the words that Touré and his childlike backing singer project in their pensive waves — praising and thanking early supporter Aminata Maïga for her patronage to the Songhaï culture, the roots of Touré's work — to feel a reverent smile jumping out from every corner.

The traditional, driving takamba rhythm of one-two-three (or one-two-three-four-five) forms the song's spine and the legs, maintaining forward momentum for Touré and his players' melodies as they meander and shimmer across and into each other. The interplay of Touré's guitar and the equal-in-the-mix kuntigui, a plucked instrument with a similar melancholic timbre to the Chinese huqin — as well as the sokou, a traditional violin as dry-sounding as balsa wood — cohere into a twinkling, masterful lattice. Meanwhile, somewhere, Touré is probably creating.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

More Stories