• Simon Rushby

Debe by Toumani Diabaté and Ali Farka Touré

Updated: Jan 29

#listeneveryday 26 Nov 2020


The kora is a kind of hybrid - part harp, part lute - that is associated chiefly with the Malinke (or Maninka) people of west Africa, a people with a strong musical heritage. The modern Republic of Mali, with its capital Bamako, is the main centre of the Malinke people and therefore the kora is seen as an instrument of Mali, though it's common in many west African countries.


Toumani Diabaté is probably the world's best known kora player. His father Sidiki was also a kora player and the young Toumani taught himself to play. He saw a need to put the instrument on the world stage and allowed himself to be influenced by classical, jazz and folk music from around the world.


Diabaté made the first album of solo kora music ever released in 1989 and it made him a household name in his own country. He's toured the world since 1990 and has played at Glastonbury, as well as collaborating with pop stars like Damon Albarn. He won a Grammy award for the album In The Heart of the Moon which was a collaboration with Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré, and this song, Debe, is from that album.



More to listen to

Toumani and his son Sidiki at Glastonbury in 2014








A 15-minute video about the making of In The Heart of the Moon



A new #listeneveryday post is published every weekday! Comment below or tweet @SimonRushby with your suggestions for future music.

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