About Keur Bakary
Keur Bakary is a Wolof community of approximately 2,000 people located south of Kaolack, near the border with The Gambia. Peanuts are the main crop grown by the village and also comprise the largest part of the local economy. The day before the community's performance there was a death in the village, and Community Voice International offered to postpone the recording out of respect for the mourners and the deceased. The community, however, is exceptionally dedicated to sharing their culture and supporting their development work, and they placed such a high priority on the Community Voice project that they insisted that it should be completed as planned. The musicians performed in a more subdued manner because of the community's mourning, and the session was held on the edge of the village instead of under the baobab tree in the center of the community. Far from being mournful, the performance highlights the strength, perseverance, and resilience of the people of Keur Bakary, with songs praising education, peace, and women's strength. There is no health center in the village, and the community would like to use any funds raised through the sale of music recordings to work toward creating a health center. They would especially like to hire or train a midwife to assist women during pregnancy and births.
About Community Voice International and the Pilot Project
Community Voice International is a nonprofit organization that facilitates cultural understanding and supports international development by improving communities' capacity to share cultural resources. Community Voice International works with communities to record local music, distribute the recordings online to engage a global audience, and return 100% of the proceeds to the communities to fund local development efforts chosen by the communities themselves.
In June 2013, Community Voice traveled to Senegal to pilot its music project in collaboration with Peace Corp Volunteers and Tostan, a non-government organization specializing in holistic, non-formal education. The team partnered with eight communities across Senegal, recording performances of local music in each of these communities. These communities come from five of Senegal's major ethnic groups—Bambara, Mandinka, Pulaar, Soninke, and Wolof—and each performs a unique style of music. Musicians played stringed instruments (kora, hoddu, and ñaañeru), drums, and other percussion instruments including various uses of calabashes, gourds, and bowls. Solo singers and call and response ensembles sang lyrics ranging from traditional griot stories to Muslim chants to new compositions celebrating the growing importance of women's rights in Senegal. The members of our partner communities are excited to present their music and are proud to share this part of their culture with a global audience.
These songs were recorded in the local context—often outside under the shade of a tree. In addition to the voices and instruments of the community, each recording is rich with the sounds of daily life: babies crying, birds chirping, and the murmur of conversations. We believe these sounds add to the recordings, rather than detracting from them. Each community holds the copyright to its own recordings and has named Community Voice International to act as agent on their behalf.
For more information on Community Voice International, Peace Corps Senegal, and Tostan, please visit our websites: