Mali Singer's NMU Visit Topic of Documentary
West African pop diva Nainy Diabate’s visit to campus is the focus of another documentary produced with assistance from WNMU-TV that will air on the station this month. From Mali to Michigan: A Musical Bridge will be broadcast at 10:30 p.m. Nov. 20 and Nov. 29. The program combines footage of the cultural and musical heritage of Diabate’s native Mali, located on the fringes of the Sahara in West Africa, with performance video from her concerts in Marquette with local musicians.
“I have always wanted to do a documentary on some aspect of Malian culture, probably music,” said Louise Bourgault (CAPS), who arranged Diabate’s visit. “In 2003, I was given an Africa Regional Research Fulbright to study AIDS music in Mali. It’s because of this Fulbright grant that I was able to make the contact with Ms. Diabate. I had a good deal of footage from my research semester. We found that combining this with her visit to NMU made for a pretty interesting documentary. This is a must-see for lovers of Desert Blues.”
Diabate was on campus for eight days in the fall of 2005. She performed two concerts: one for Standing O, the student-produced music program that airs on channel 20; and one for an exhibit opening at the DeVos Art Museum. Most of the local musicians who played with her were students. Diabate also gave presentations in a number of NMU classes.
“Promoting visits by international scholars and performers is a way to internationalize the experience of NMU,” Bourgault added. “Many students were introduced to World Music through this. We in the CAPS department are also very pleased to collaborate with TV 13. All of this helps to enhance the learning experience of our students, many of whom were involved with aspects of the production. Their names are listed in the credits.”
Bourgault presented the documentary during a panel discussion on “Engaging in Global Dialogues” at the Fulbright Alumni Conference held Nov. 5 in Marrakech, Morocco. The program revolved around the theme of international education. Joining her on the podium was NMU student Nicole Weber, who is studying abroad in Spain, but served as Bourgault’s Freshman Fellow last fall and assisted with Diabate’s visit.
A rough cut of From Mali to Michigan was screened at the UNITED conference by Bourgault and Bob Thomson (WNMU-TV), who was the master editor for the project.
“Instead of simply documenting her visit, this program also takes a look at her culture and where her musical background came from,” Thomson said. “All of that adds perspective and puts her visit in a larger context and makes it more interesting.”
NMU student Michala Hansen, an English major from Marquette, narrated the program.