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Khaira Arby mesmerizes audiences with an intensity that flows from her home and from her unique spirit. Born in a village not far from the famed city of Timbuktu, Arby is firmly planted in the desert sand. Her creativity flows in part from the people of her home region of Northern Mali—the young musicians in her band all hail from Timbuktu—and from their past and present struggles. Arby’s most recent album, Timbuktu Tarab, shifts seamlessly between the edgy and progressive and the traditional and deeply rooted. Inspired by her cousin Ali Farka Toure, Arby turns to her mixed Berber and Sonrhai roots and draws on a sweet mixture of desert blues and recording sophistication, blending ripping electric guitar with the forefather of the banjo and funky drum breaks with the traditional percussion of the scraper and the calabash.