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Honoring A Duty To Make Music In Silent Mali

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The songwriter and guitarist Sidi Touré is a superstar in his native Mali. But in the last 18 months, it hasn't been easy for Malian artists.

Islamic extremists are fighting for control of the area around Timbuktu, in the northern part of the country. The violence, along with a rebel-imposed ban on both music and secular art, has forced many of Mali's artists to flee the country.

Sidi Touré, who is from the North, was in the middle of recording his latest album when all this started happening.

"I have to say, all of the things that happened in Mali in the last year were very painful," he says, through a translator. "They weren't fun to watch, and they weren't fun to experience. But since I'm an artist, and all of us artists — we have a duty to move forward, and to keep going, and to continue to make music.

The new album Alafia, meaning "peace," comes out on Tuesday. While celebrating on his U.S. tour, Touré spoke with Weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden from WBEZ in Chicago.

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