A:There was a lot of Malian music and a lot of blues in my house growing up. My father used to drive with me through the desert blasting BB King from his truck. That is my first great memory of music.
Q:Did you listen a lot to your father's music when you were a child or did you "rebel" and go in different directions?
A:Yes of course I listened a lot to his music. I love his music and I am very proud of him. But I also like all kinds of music, I listen to everything. My father was the same, he liked all kinds of music.
Q:You faced some resistance from your father about becoming a musician. What about your children? Would you want to stop them from becoming musicians as well?
A:I have two children but they are young, four years and two years old. If they want to be musicians that is ok with me as long as they get a full education first. I did this too. I have my college diploma and a conservatory diploma in music. I am trained to be a music professor.
Q:I often write about the experiences of Americans touring in the U.S.. What's travel like for you here? Is it any different than how you travel in Africa or in other parts of the world? What do you like about it and what do you not like about it?
A:Yes it is a completely different experience from traveling in Africa. I like meeting new people from all different places but there are many things that I do not like. We are traveling all the time, not sleeping well, not eating well. The food here when you are on the road is very bad. But I like that in America it is very easy to find anything you need anywhere in the country. This is not the case in Africa. In Africa what you bring with you is what you have, that's it.
Q:You started as a drummer. When did you pick up the guitar and why choose that over the drum?
A:Only God knows that, he was the one who put that inspiration in my heart to switch from drums to guitar. I think for me, I always wanted to play the guitar but as Ali's son that was not an option for me until I was grown up and ready to prove myself.
Q:Performing in the U.S., do you see yourself as a kind of a cultural ambassador from your part of the world? If not, why not? If so, what do you want us to know about where you come from?
A:Yes, I think all musicians from Africa are automatically going to be like ambassadors for their countries when they are abroad. There are not many Americans, for example, who have been to Mali. So all that they know of Mali they hear in the news or they must learn from the musicians that come to America. I think the important thing for me to express to audiences here is that Mali is a beautiful country with a very rich and profound culture. We are a very proud people and a very joyful people. We have problems, yes, but there are great riches in Mali that you will never see on the news.
Q:Often, American listeners discover other American performers through performers from other countries. Several blues musicians have been introduced to Americans by the likes of Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin (among others). Do you listen to any American blues players and if so, who?
A:Yes I love BB King, John Lee Hooker, I also love Gary Clark Junior and Derek Trucks.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.