Greetings from Havana!

Greetings from Havana!

The Mali-Cuba team has landed in Cuba for the final and most challenging part of our project. As we write, the four Malian children, accompanied by Lassana Diabaté are about to arrive in Havana airport, for what is their ever first trip outside Mali (see “about” section for more information).

The four children will spend 10 days in Cuba, and will be meeting many Cuban musicians their age, participating in music workshops with them, visiting the city (and going to the beach to see the ocean for the very first time!)…

Finally, the day before leaving again for Mali, the Malian and Cuban protagonists of our “Growing into Music” films will be together on the stage of the newly refurbished Teatro Miramar for a final concert that, we are sure, will be an unique and unforgettable experience for everybody.

Following is the programme (in both English and Spanish) of the activities planned. We are truly excited about what lies ahead, and will report extensively very soon!


22/03-5pm. Presentation of the research project and screening of the “Growing into Music” documentaries at the Conference of Musicology in the Casa de las Américas.

23/03-11am. Official inauguration of the Mali-Cuba project in the Casa de Africa.
5pm. Music workshop with Malian and Cuban children.

24/03-11am. Musical exchange with the group La Colmenita and meeting with UNICEF.
5pm. Music workshop with Malian and Cuban children.

25/03-9am. Trip to Matanzas to meet the young musicians of local community projects. Screening of the “Growing into Music” documentaries in the cinema of central Matanzas.

26/03-5pm. Trip to Regla to meet the children of the project Los Güiritos de San Cristóbal.

27/03-Day off. Trip to the beach.

28/03-4pm. Music workshop with Malian and Cuban children.

29/03-2pm. Screening of the “Growing into Music” documentaries and concert of Cuban and Malian children at UNEAC (Union of Cuban Writers and Artists)

30/03-3pm. Performance of Malian and Cuban children at the Arts Festival of the Instituto Superior de Arte. With El Romerillo, rumba musicians of the project En Clave de Rumba and students of the Instituto Superior de Arte.

8.30pm. Inauguration of the Teatro Miramar: gala event. Performance of Lassana Diabaté from Mali with Eliades Ochoa from Cuba.

31/03-2.30pm. Presentation of the projects Growing into Music and Mali-Cuba: Music Across Generation at the Teatro Miramar. Screening of the “Growing into Music” documentaries and final concert of the Cuban and Malian children who took part in the project.

01/04. The four Malian children and Lassana Diabaté leave Cuba.


22/03-5pm. Presentación del proyecto de investigación y documentales en el “Colóquio de Musicología” en la Casa de las Américas.

23/03-11am. Inauguración oficial en Casa Africa. Recorrido por el Centro Histórico.
5pm. Talleres / ensayo en la residencia estudiantil.

24/03-11am. Intercambio con la compañía La Colmenita y directivos de la UNICEF en la Sede de la Colmenita, Vedado
5pm. Talleres / ensayo en la residencia estudiantil.

25/03-9am. Viaje a Matanzas para intercambio con niños de proyectos comunitarios de la provincia. Coordinado por la Dirección de Cultura Comunitaria de la UNEAC en Matanzas.

26/03-5pm. Visita a Regla para compartir con niños cubanos del proyecto, Los Güiritos de San Cristóbal, coordinado por el CIDMUC.

27/03 Día libre. Playa.

28/03-4pm. Taller / ensayo en la Residencia Estudiantil.
5.30pm puerta abierta a los estudiantes de la Residencia.

29/03-2pm. Presentación de documentales “Creciendo dentro de la música”, y actuación de niños de Mali y cubanos en la Unión de escritores y Artistas de Cuba. Proyectos comunitarios de la Casa de Cultura de Los Sitios, por el CNCC.

30/03-3pm. Presentación de niños de Mali y rumberos cubanos en el Festival de las Artes del Instituto Superior de Arte, con El Romerillo, rumberos del proyecto En Clave de Rumba, de la UNEAC y estudiantes del ISA.

8.30pm. Estreno del Teatro Miramar: noche gala. Actuación de Lassana Diabaté (balafón) con Eliades Ochoa.

31/03-2.30pm. Presentación del proyecto total “Growing into Music” (Creciendo Dentro de la Música).

01/04. Salida de Cuba.

Back from Mali

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The Mali-Cuba team recently returned from Mali, where they had organised the first of the Mali-Cuba events. On January 5, 2012, children of eight different musical families from Bamako, Kita, Ségou and Garana joined forces to put on a remarkable and unprecedented concert in front of an enthusiastic audience of several hundred people in Bamako’s National Park.

The concert opened the 2012 series entitled Jeudis Musicaux (Musical Thursdays) sponsored by Mali’s National Museum. The director of the series, Mme Fatou Toure, was overjoyed at the level of musicianship of the children, the youngest of whom was four years old. “The Museum has never before hosted such a concert. It shows us how important it is to showcase the skills of our young griot children”. Most of these children, who have been the protagonists of Lucy’s research in Mali for the last three years, met each other for the very first time only three days before the actual concert, during a collective rehearsal supervised by our team-member, virtuoso balafon player Lassana Diabate. After a rather shy and tentative start, the children soon discovered common musical ground. The rehearsal ended with a playful and lively jam session involving the children dancing, shouting, singing, and swapping instruments, to the accompaniment of one of the oldest tunes in the griot repertoire.

At the concert itself, each family took it in turn to play three pieces. Parents took a back seat while the children delighted the audience with their performance skills, showing a confidence and poise that were truly impressive, especially as for many of them, it was the first concert of their career!

In the audience, different generations of Malians clapped along with the songs. Scattered among them, almost incognito, were some of the most respected and best known musicians of the country, there to see the performance of their sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, grandsons and granddaughters. The children in the audience stared in amazement at the children on stage. Some of them got up and joined in the dancing. Music continued until well after sunset, when the division between audience and musicians broke down as everybody, young and less young, started clapping and dancing to the game-songs of the Kouyate girls of Garana.

The concert was a huge success, and surprised and delighted us all. We suspect we may have started a new trend of children’s concerts at the Museum. Parents and children alike agreed that it had acted as a huge motivation. Above are some pictures of the concert and its protagonists.

During our stay in Bamako, our films on Mali and Cuba were screened several times:

At the National Museum of Mali for an all-children audience on January 6, 2012.

At the Conservatoire des Arts “Balla Fasseke Kouyaté” for the students and teachers of the conservatoire, on January 5 and January 11, 2012.

Bamako events

Mali-Cuba will kickstart on the 5th of January 2012 with a concert by the protagonists of our Mali films and their families at the National Museum of Mali in Bamako. The concert will be part of the museum’s concert series Jeudis Musicaux.

The following morning two of our Growing into Music films, on Mali and Cuba, will be screened for an all-children audience in the National Museum’s projection hall.

AfroCubism nominated for Grammy

AfroCubism, the World Circuit project that involves some of the best contemporary musicians from Mali and Cuba, has been nominated for a Grammy Award. This is a very dear project to us, also because some of the protagonists of Mali-Cuba: Music Across Generations are the sons, daughters, nephews and grandchildren of the AfroCubism musicians from Mali. Congratulations to AfroCubism and to World Circuit for another Grammy nomination!!

Press release from World Circuit:

AfroCubism nominated for Grammy Award

World Circuit Records are pleased to announce that the self-titled album by the Malian / Cuban super-group AfroCubism has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best World Music Album. The 54th annual Grammy Awards will be held on 12 February 2012 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast live in the US on CBS 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

AfroCubism was an idea originally conceived of in 1996 to bring the foremost Cuban musicians and their Malian counterparts together on one recording. As it turned out the Malians couldn’t make it to Cuba so an exclusively Cuban album was recorded instead. This went on to be the multi-million selling Buena Vista Social Club.

14 years later the 13 piece all-star cast of musicians including Eliades Ochoa, Djelimady Tounkara, Toumani Diabaté, Bassekou Kouyate and Kasse Mady Diabaté reconvened and recorded ‘AfroCubism’. Released in October 2010 the album universally lived up to the high expectations which preceded it.

 “an elegant, gently exquisite album” The Guardian ««««

“thrilling” Uncut ««««

“The top table Afro-Cuban team-up that Buena Vista should have been” MOJO ««««

“a cross-cultural tour de force”  The Times ««««

Key members of the group have been awarded Grammys for previous projects; Toumani Diabaté for both of his duet albums with Ali Farka Touré; and Eliades Ochoa for Buena Vista Social Club.

For more information on AfroCubism, including videos, image gallery, album artwork, tour dates and more visit