In the West, music can offer the chance to escape and liberate oneself from the present troubles of life. But in Mali, Islamic extremists have been cracking down on music and the country's rich traditions and history associated with musical freedoms.
But one musician, Fatoumata Diawara, is trying to combat that. On her debt album, the singer/songwriter uses elements of funk, jazz and pop, along with native traditional African styles of music, to tell stories of the struggles of women in Mali. Through her music, she hopes to give women a voice.
Diawara begins touring in the United States next month.
Banning Eyre is a producer for Afropop Worldwide and senior editor of Afropop.org.