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The Tamani d’Or: Mali Lavishes Love on Crossover Indie Darling and Pioneering Singer Khaira Arby with an Achievement Award

It’s a rare artist who can take the U.S. media and SXSW by storm while garnering profound respect as a cultural leader in her homeland. And it’s even rarer when that artist can keep true to her deep desert roots while standing out in front of a contemporary rock quartet. The Tamani d’Or award recently granted to Malian singer Khaira Arby on April 15, 2011 in Bamako, Mali shows how profoundly respected she is for her boldness and commitment.

Arby’s breakthrough album, Timbuktu Tarab (Clermont Music), and two recent US concert tours have won her critical and audience acclaim from Brooklyn to San Francisco. Now, Khaira has been honored for her creative work at home with the Tamani d’Or, as she prepares to conquer Europe with her music.

Given by the Malian music industry, the award states that: “The General Directors of the Tamani d’Or have the real pleasure to announce that you are distinguished as the best Malian musical artist of the past 50 years.”

“One of Africa’s greatest singers”—New York Times

The Tamani Awards, the “African Grammys,” honors , newcomers and established performers from Mali . Previous awardees have included such greats as Oumou Sangare, Salif Keita, Bassekou Kouyate, Toumani Diabate, Ali Farka Toure, and many more. Arby is one of only a few women who have received this honor and also one of only a few artists from Mali’s north to win recognition for her achievements and contribution to Mali’s culture and arts. Arby was thrilled to receive the award’s statuette, a golden “talking drum,” at a recent gala in Bamako.

“It has been wonderful to have my music so well received around the world,” Arby noted, reflecting on the award. “It is also very moving to have my work recognized in Mali.”

“Khaira Arby is a remarkable woman. She is a champion of Malian music and a legend and she is influencing and changing her culture's attitudes toward women. She's a true pioneer.”—NPR, All Things Considered

Arby’s voice and sound evoke the rich complexity of Mali itself: its diverse languages, and cultures. Her creativity flows from multicultural Timbuktu in Mali’s Saharan north and embraces Malians and the world. She sings of legendary Saharan nomad warriors and the struggles of women in the world. She turns traditional praise singing into a call for justice. She weaves her powerful, sailing voice organically into hard-hitting electric guitars and drums.

“Arby's singing dominates. Her voice soars above the groove.”—The Washington Post

While influenced by the desert blues of Tinariwen, Arby adds an intensity and vocal flexibility that can soothe and rouse, move and motivate. The message is central to Arby, but so is the funk: The acoustic buzz of Timbuktu meets blazing guitar licks and sizzling bass.

“Arby is one of Mali's most widely respected female singers and has a powerful style.”—Pitchfork

The Tamani d’Or award shows just how widely respected she has become in Mali for her powerful message and her music. And how perfectly poised Khaira Arby is to take on the world.

Additional Info
Khaira Arby and Her Band Return to the U.S. for Spring 2012 Tour
The Tamani d’Or: Mali Lavishes Love on Crossover Indie Darling and ...

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