Title: Global Griot
Artist: Eric Bibb
Label: Stony Plain
Formats: 2-CD set, Digital
Release Date: October 26, 2018
Grammy nominated blues and folk musician Eric Bibb’s latest project, Global Griot, was inspired by his engagement with the West African tradition of storytelling through music—an engagement that began at least fifteen years prior when he met and recorded with Malian musician Habib Koité. In the introduction of the liner notes for his new album Bibb writes, “Dear friends, my ongoing reunion with West Africa is a life-changing blessing. Collaborating with and befriending musicians from legendary griot families has been a long awaited homecoming—like a healing singing river washing over my soul. It’s an honor and a great pleasure to introduce you to my fellow global griots with this gathering of tribes.”
Perhaps this “gathering of tribes” is a literal one since Global Griot features a number of guest musicians: the previously mentioned Habib Koité, Senegalese kora master Solo Cissokho, and blues singer-songwriter Harrison Kennedy. This trio joins Bibb, various instrumentalists, and the album’s “Griot Choir” to create a timely piece of work that blends the West African griot tradition with Bibb’s background in blues, folk, and world music. Together they craft an album that addresses contemporary societal and political issues—from global capitalism (“We Don’t Care”) to the current President of the United States (“What’s He Gonna Say Today?”).
The concept and title of the album are best explained in Bibb’s own word: “‘Global Griot’— two words that describe many of my friends and myself, as well…Connecting to the West African tradition of storytelling and oral history through music, this album features brothers and sisters from around the globe—serving the listener a tasty gumbo, spiced with hope for these challenging times.” To listen to Eric Bibb and Habib Koité discuss they making of Global Griot, watch the EPK for the album.
Reviewed by Kennedi Johnson