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 An Aficionado of world music and a man with an appreciation for dance and the movement it creates, we asked Ambassador, Sam Bleakley to collect some of the sounds that accompanied our recent trip to Senegal, West Africa. Now playing in the Finisterre Workshops and for your listening pleasure.

One of the main genres of music in Senegal is known as mbalax (pronounced ‘m-balar’) and is distinguished by uplifting rhythms layered with frenetic, stuttering drums, and beautiful lyrics. Youssou N’Dour is a great champion of the mbalax genre.

Like Mali, Senegal has a long history of griots - storytellers, poets, praise singers and troubadours who played the West African 22 string harp known as the kora. Kora music is breathtaking, and also widespread in Dakar. Mbalax first flourished after Senegal’s independence from French colonial rule as artists inspired by Cuban music mixed this sound with their sabra dance rhythms, indigenous drumming templates and the raw energy of jazz, soul and funk.

The music is infectious and uplifting, embodying the characteristic optimism of Senegal.

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