Arouna Diarra’s heritage as a “griot” in the Mandingue culture of West Africa calls upon the artist and his family members to be ambassadors of art and history. It’s no surprise, then, that Diarra constructs his own instruments — including his beloved 14-string, harplike kamel n’goni — for performing and teaching his music students, singing in his native language, Bambara, with nostalgic spirit. On his forthcoming album, Benkadi (“unity” in Bambara), the multi-instrumentalist is accompanied by guitarist and longtime student of African music Patrick Fitzsimons, who also produced the viscerally pleasing collaboration. The two play their album-release set at Dobra Tea in Black Mountain on Saturday, June 13, from 3-5 p.m. $5 suggested donation ($15 with CD included). dobrateanc.com. Photo of Diarra courtesy of the artist
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