Malam Maman Barka
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Malam Maman Barka


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The best kept secret in music


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Guidan Haya-2008 (Beauty Saloon Music)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Malam Barka is a teacher, a musician, a poet, and an inspiring force to many in his West African homeland of Niger. He has been performing music professionally on his gurumi, a two-stringed instrument with a calabash shell body and iguana skin head, for over 20 years. Hailing from the Toubou community of Tesker, in southeastern Niger, he is now based in Niamey. A prolific songwriter with over 250 compositions to his credit, Malam Barka has created a whole repertoire and musical style that resonates profoundly with many modern Nigeriens who love their traditional music but also want songs that address pressing issues of contemporary life and transcend ethnic boundaries. It is as a result of this deep connection that so many Nigeriens feel with his songs that he has traveled broadly internationally as a musical ambassador of his Sahelian homeland. He has performed throughout West Africa in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, and Chad, but also in such countries as China, Japan, Pakistan, Morocco, Algeria, France, Germany, Spain, and Holland. He is scheduled to perform at the 2008 WOMAD Festival in London.

Malam Barka is a singer with a captivating delivery and penetrating lyrical style that covers a wide range of human experience from love and the struggles of daily life to broad sociopolitical and philosophical issues. Stemming from the deep cradle of Hausa civilization in Northern Nigeria and Southern Niger, Malam Barka's gurumi sound is located on the fascinating spectrum linking the Islamic Sahel with early African-American music, with a style characterized by pentatonic melodies and highly rhythmic riffs produced by a percussive playing technique similar to clawhammer banjo picking. Barka is joined by the powerful percussion of Oumarou Adamou on the kalongu, a talking drum, and the unique douma, where the tones are modulated by pressing the heel of the foot on the drum head while beating out the strong rhythms in tune with the poignant voice of Malam Barka's songs.