Singing the Songhoy Blues at Womad

Songhoy Blues were one of the first acts to play at WomadNZ 2016.
Robert Charles/FAIRFAX NZ

Songhoy Blues were one of the first acts to play at WomadNZ 2016.

Songhoy Blues refuse to let you leave their show unhappy.

"Even if it's only one person in front of us, we're going to make sure that person is happy before they leave," vocalist Aliou Touré said.

"That is the most important thing for us. We don't mind if it's 10,000 people or 50 people, we'll make sure every single person in front of us enjoys themselves before they leave."

Looks like Songhoy Blues got their wish - a very happy looking crowd.
ROBERT CHARLES/FAIRFAX NZ

Looks like Songhoy Blues got their wish - a very happy looking crowd.

The Malian quartet comprised of Aliou, Garba and Oumar Touré - all unrelated - and Nathanael Dembélé opened Womad in New Plymouth on Friday night with a flourish, setting the tone for the weekend.

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"To open this kind of festival is a big responsibility for artists. If people enjoy it, it's the happiest thing for us," he said.

Songhoy Blues perform.
Robert Charles/FAIRFAX NZ

Songhoy Blues perform.

The quartet aren't strangers to festivals, having played Glastonbury in 2015.

"It was crazy for us. It was our first time to play in front of thousands and thousands of people. The guys were like 'whoa, what's going on?' It was amazing.

They got together in Malian capital Bamako in 2012 after they were forced out of their hometown in Timbuktu during a civil conflict.

This member of Songhoy Blues is leading by example with his huge smile.
Robert Charles/FAIRFAX NZ

This member of Songhoy Blues is leading by example with his huge smile.

During the conflict, music was banned in Timbuktu.

Touré said artists, musicians and football players all moved to the south to be safe during the conflict.

"I knew Garba was a great guitarist, I knew Oumar before but we never had time to create something.  

"We just finished school and we didn't have jobs so we thought maybe we could do some music together - everybody had one talent, we just had to keep together," he said.

Touré said the band play "proper Malian music with more young energy."

"When we see young people from Africa enjoying rap, reggae or something like that, we think maybe we can take all of this kind of music and put it all together in something original from Africa.

"When you listen you know it's from Africa, but you question - is it rock? is it reggae? is it hip hop? We love when people ask which kind of music. We say it's African music," he said.

 

 

 - Stuff

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