Khaïra Arby (sometimes spelled Haira) "The Nightingale of the North" is a singer from Mali. She is from the desert- from Agouni, north of Timbuktu, Mali, and cousin to Ali Farka Touré. She sings in Sonrai, Arabic, Tamashek, accompanied by instruments and rhythms just as varied, with electric guitar and trickling beats, calabash, traditional violin and guitar, and drumming that creates that abrupt squared sound of the music from that part of Mali. She was born on September 21, 1959, in the Abaradjou neighborhood of Tomboctou, to a Berabiche father and a Tamachek mother.
The only singer in her family, Khaira started to perform, in 1970, when she was only eleven years old. She made her public debut with a cultural group from Abaradjou, and made such an impression that she was soon recruited by the 'troupe du cercle de Tomboctou'. And later that same year, she was promoted to soloist with 'troupe regionale de Gao', the ensemble with which she appeared at the 1970 biennale; a biannual music festival/competition featuring the best traditional and modern ensembles from throughout Mali. In 1972, Khaira was recruited by the 'Orchestre de Tomboctou', a modern dance-band, and two years later, in 1974, was selected to represent Gao in Bamako, for the final round of the biennale.
Khaira was awarded the third prize for best vocal soloist. Her blossoming music career was cut short, however, in 1976, when her father, frustrated that Khaira had abandoned her studies for music, forbid her from performing in public. Khaira obeyed, quit the 'Orchestre de Tomboctou', stopped performing, and got married. Seven years later, after her divorce in 1983, Khaira started to get pulled back into music.Make Khaira Arby Playlist