[ed: To hear the songs, go to asthmatickitty.com and click on "akradio" just beneath the banner.]
Music in Burkina Faso, as in the rest of the world, is a part of daily life. In the cities and large towns its played from broken speakers set to “11” at cassette vendors and bars or from inside taxis and buses decorated with flags and even the occasional mirror ball. In the small villages music is heard in the distant drum of a celebration, children playing in the streets, or from groups of women grinding their millet and doing housework. The music of Burkina is filled with contrasts and contradictions but it is all accepted with open ears by everyone. Listening to a broadcast of local radio will easily illustrate this fact when a new local hip-hop track is played next to a traditional kora instrumental which is then followed by an Alpha Blondy protest song. One time while taking a shower after a customary siesta I even heard Kenny Rogers and Celine Dion playing from the bar across the street!
This mix is meant as an introduction to the variety of Burkina’s local music. I have tried to include music that is both urban and rural, popular and traditional, live and studio produced. Unfortunately I was unable to get track and artist names for any of the FM radio recordings, but they can still be enjoyed for what they are.
Track 1: FM 2006/01/26. A recording made directly from FM radio in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. January 2006.
Track 2: “Alpha et Omega” – Hermas Zopoula. Recorded live in Hermas’ yard in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. July 2008.
Track 3: Balafon. Professional balafon player M. Sawadogo plays a sequence to be included in one Hermas Zopoula’s songs that was not included in his upcoming album. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. July 2008.
Track 4: Boura Singing. Recording of Sisalli women singing at an orphanage in Boura, Burkina Faso. November 2005.
Track 5: “I Yamba” – Smockey. This recording was part of a VCD compilation of recent Burkina Faso music videos sent to me by a friend. Smockey is a popular hip-hop artist from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The song is a protest against the practice of forced marriage that is still going on in Burkina Faso. 2007.
Track 6: Christmas Singing 8. Recorded on Christmas Eve 2005 at the Leo Deux Church in Leo, Burkina Faso. 2005.
Track 7: FM 2006/01/29. Radio Recoding in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. January 2006.
Track 8: “Faut Pas Divorcer” – Aly Verhutey. Very, very popular song in Burkina in late 2005 early 2006. The song’s message is about respecting women and a plea not to end your marriages in divorce. Many popular songs in Burkina have very obvious social messages. 2006.
Track 9: “Il Va Payer” – Seydou Nignan. A song that tells us that the suffering of today will prepare us for tomorrow. I discovered this song by buying a VCD of Burkina music videos on the recommendation of a taxi driver. The artist he recommended was terrible, but this song was included in the compilation. A real gem. 2006.
Track 10: Christmas Singing by Women’s Group. Recorded on Christmas Eve 2005 at the Leo Deux Church in Leo, Burkina Faso. 2005.
Track 11: FM 2006/01/29. Radio Recording in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. January 2006.
Track 12: “Le Malin” – Le Pouvoir. Another very popular song in 2006. This one is about being a ladies man and living the life of a “player.” It seemed like this song was playing on every street corner in Ouagadougou for a while. 2006.
Track 13: FM 2006/04/02. Radio Recoding in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. April 2006.
Track 14: “Nibina Kan Bagniainai” – Hermas Zopoula. Recorded live walking down the street near Hermas’ home in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. July 2008.
Track 15: FM 2006/01/26. Radio Recording in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. January 2006.
Track 16: “Mama Soukous” – Volta Jazz. This is a real treat. Music made in the 60’s from Burkina Faso. I got this track from a Voice of America blog. For more information visit here.
BONUS: While we’re sharing web links follow this one for an amazing amount of music videos from Burkina Faso.Jonathan Dueck now lives in Airdrie, Alberta, Canada. The home that he shares with his wife Heather and the wonderful Pritchard family is on a large hill from which he can see a Super Wal-Mart. Try to find him at www.intransitcentre.info