Through Amsatou and her boss Igo, I was put in touch with one Mali’s most famous kora player, Mr Toumani Diabaté himself! He has record contracts in place and a serious career touring the world, but was happy to hear we’re in touch with his balafon player, Ahmed Fofana.

Toumani took me to his usual sunday afternoon hangout, where we met with his friends. They prepared attaya, west African green tea, which is served like a sweet shot of espresso. The first shot is bitter, the second one is less strong, and the third is sweet.

Listening to Toumani speak, I got the idea that throughout the world, there is a devoted public for this music. But still, access to African music hasn’t yet been truly democratized. There is much experimentation here and plenty new sounds to share.

There are tons of great videos out there sampling Toumani’s talent. I picked this one out of many, because he’s wearing almost the same blue outfit as when we met!