The Acoustic Africa tour includes Habib Koite, the Malian superstar whose exciting concerts have endeared him to audiences worldwide, Oliver Mtukudzi, the best-selling artist in his home country of Zimbabwe, and Afel Bocoum, a guitarist, singer, and composer from Mali whose songs evoke the evolution of traditional Malian society.
One of Africa's most exciting performers, Habib Koite plays music that reflects the diverse musical traditions of his Malian homeland. Accompanied by his band Bamada, Koite has released a number of successful and critically acclaimed albums and has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and in major magazines such as People and Rolling Stone. Over the past 10 years, Habib and his band have performed over 600 concerts for adoring audiences in far-flung locations such as Japan, Australia, Brazil and Kazakhstan. With their engaging stage presence and expert musicianship, Habib Koite and Bamada always put on a show to remember.
Lovingly called 'Tuku', Oliver Mtukudzi began recording in the mid-1970s as a member of Wagon Wheels, a band that also featured Thomas Mapfumo. After Wagon Wheels rolled to fame in Southern Africa, Tuku formed Black Spirits, the band that has backed him throughout his career. Mtukudzi has been heavily influenced by chimurenga, the genre pioneered by Mapfumo that is inspired by the hypnotic rhythms of the mbira (thumb piano). His music also incorporates pop influences, South Africa mbaqanga, the energetic Zimbabwean pop style JIT, and the traditional kateke drumming of his clan, the Korekore. While Tuku's music is undeniably contagious, it is his lyrics that have captured the hearts of his people as his songs invariably deal with social and economic issues. One of Tuku's biggest fans is Bonnie Raitt, who has not only called Tuku a treasure, but has also used his music as inspiration for the song One Belief Away on her album Fundamental.
Afel Bocoum began his music career with his uncle Ali Farka Toure in the group Asco, a collaboration which lasted some thirty years. In the 1980s, he founded his own group named Alkibar, in which he plays the guitar, sings, and composes. Bocoum sings mainly in Sonrai, his mother tongue, but also in Tamashek, the language of the Tuareg, and in Bambara. In spite of his growing success, Bocoum remains gentle and unassuming, modestly directing the energy this recognition brings him towards the welfare of his people and the inspiration they give to his music. In 2002, Afel collaborated with the lead singer of Blur, Damon Albarn, on the extremely popular album Mali Music. The gigs they played together were well received, especially the concert at the Barbican in London in June 2003. Damon also made a guest appearance beside Afel on a larger stage at Roskilde in Denmark in front of 65,000 people. With remarkable subtlety and a sure talent, Bocoum has proved that he is a true messenger of the great river, and it's certain he will actively contribute to keeping Malian music at the forefront of the international scene.