Don’t miss Khaira Arby May 8: “It’s boom! It’s flash! It’s great!”

Anyone who’s followed this website, or my newsletter for the last couple of years, knows that I’m a huge fan of the Malian singer Khaira Arby.

Khaira at Club Balletou, Sep. 2010
Khaira at Club Balletou, Sep. 2010

Over the summer of 2010, I followed news & reviews of her first-ever North American tour, and finally saw her perform in Toronto that September, at the Ashkenaz Festival and also in the CIUT studios. She was indeed, an amazing singer, but here, she was singing as a guest with the New York City Band, Sway Machinery.

So later that month,  I took the train to Montreal to catch her performing with her own band at Club Ballétou. It was indeed, as the saying goes, worth the trip.

Since then, she’s returned to North America a few more times, but sadly, never to Toronto. Until this month.

Don’t miss her Tuesday night show at the Lula Lounge, presented by Small World Music.

We’re lucky that she was able to get here. With the fighting, the coup, and refugee crisis in Mali, nothing was certain. And it was also not certain any Malian musicians would get visas into Canada or the U.S. But she is indeed, now performing in the U.S., and I understand the Canadian visas are in place.

Of course, whether or not she is able play a concert is of less importance than the safety of the people in Mali, especially in the north where Khaira is from (Timbuktou).

But she is here, and to whet your appetite a bit more…

In the video below, from Essakane Film, she tells some of her story, her passion for music as a child, how her father tried to stop her singing, and married her off at the age of 16. But nothing could stop Khaira, who, among many other things, has been a strong pioneer for women musicians and singers in northern Mali…


  • A music video of Aigna, a song for her mother
  • In the National Post, Khaira gives four reasons why people should see her at the Lula.  Her first is all you need: “It’s boom! It’s flash! It’s great!”
  • Afropop International produced a video of Khaira from her 2010 tour, which included these comments, very applicable, given the situation in Mali now:

“In the land of Timbuktu, there are black Tuareg. There are the white Tuareg. There are Songhai. There are the Peul. This is why, in my songs, in my music, all the ethnic groups of Timbuktu find themselves, and I sing to them one by one… The music of the north is cosmopolitan. The music of  Timbuktu is so broad, it can embrace all kinds of music.”

Concert details here.  See you there.