Series tracing the roots of African music, featuring some of the continent's major artists
Tinariwen, the robed guitar slingers from the Sahara, became successful in the first decade of the 21st century thanks to their slinky desert-blues riffs. The music of the desert has had a fascination for Western musicians, with Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones travelling to Morocco to record the extraordinary traditional drummers and pipe players of Joujouka, and more recently Robert Plant and Jimmy Page collaborating with North African musicians on their reunion album No Quarter - Unledded. Meanwhile, Rai musicians from Algeria moved to France to shake up the French music scene. The programme follows the careers of Rai stars like Khaled and the Arab rocker Rachid Taha, and also the great female singers who have emerged from Islamic North Africa and from further east in Christian Ethiopia. Featuring Tinariwen, Khaled, Rachid Taha, Emmanuel Jal (Sudan), Souad Massi (Algeria), Maryam Mursal (Somalia), Amina (Tunisia), and Gigi and Aster Aweke from Ethiopia.
Today, much of Africa's best known music comes from the West African states of Senegal and Mali, thanks to such best-selling artists as Youssou N'Dour, Baaba Maal and Salif Keita. The first in a series of six about African pop music traces the roots of West African music to the ancient Mande empire that once controlled this part of Africa and which was handed down from generation to generation through the hereditary praise singers, the griots. The musicians themselves guide us through the story of how the griots lost their musical monopoly and how state intervention and a craze for Cuban music helped to create one of the most exciting popular music scenes in the world today. Ali Farka Toure, Baaba Maal and Daara J support the theory that this region of Africa was the birthplace of major musical styles like the blues, reggae and hip hop.