Blur’s Damon Albarn Performs at Mali Music Festival Despite State of Emergency
Albarn traveled to Mali's capital to play this year’s Festival Acoustik Bamako -- an annual music festival organized by Malian musician and kora player Toumani Diabaté -- in the face of a state of emergency prompted by a terrorist attack at a hotel in the city last fall, which took the lives of 22 people. The tragedy led Diabaté and festival organizers to cancel outdoor sets planned in the south of the country, however, indoor sets -- including Albarn’s -- in Bamako went ahead as planned.
“It’s the message of coming here and doing this that’s the most important thing and being able to keep the agenda on music,” Albarn told the Guardian. “The country’s music is an inspiration for me and that’s why I’ve been here so many times.”
Albarn’s set included collaborations with British and Malian musicians and material pulled from his 2002 collaborative Mali Music album, which saw the Blur frontman teaming up with Diabaté and Afel Bocoum.
“We don’t have diamonds in Mali, we don’t have oil, but what we do have is the music,” Mali’s minister of culture, crafts and development N’Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo said. “What is the best worldwide language today? It’s music, and we have the best ambassadors for that."