Director Jacque Sarasin’s 2001 film entitled “Je Chanterai Pour Tois” (I’ll Sing for You) is a movie you have to see if you enjoy blues music. Malian musician Karkar is a gifted guitarist whose repertoire ranges from traditional blues riffs to African folk music, yet he somehow manages to blend them seamlessly.
The film is more of a series of music videos than a documentary, which I think Sarasin did purposely. The majority of the film is Karkar playing his guitar in different parts of Mali, with different people. The effect is to create a sense of context; to give his words and his sound a backdrop that completes the mood and purpose of his music.
Karkar’s earlier music, songs popular in Mali during the 1960s, you hear very little of in the film, but Western influence is apparent. It is somewhat ironic that an African musician would be inspired by American blues, which is based on African beats; but I don’t think that makes Karkar’s sound seem derivative at all. On the contrary, his interpretation of American blues riffs, coupled with his Bambara lyrics create something unique.
Karkar, like many American musicians of the 1960s, advocated political and social change. His music played a key role in Malian independence. His life and work is a testament to the power of art to inspire nations.