The songwriter and guitarist Sidi Touré is a superstar in his native Mali. But in the last 18 months, it hasn't been easy for Malian artists.
Islamic extremists are fighting for control of the area around Timbuktu, in the northern part of the country. The violence, along with a rebel-imposed ban on both music and secular art, has forced many of Mali's artists to flee the country.
Sidi Touré, who is from the North, was in the middle of recording his latest album when all this started happening.
Mike Doughty spent the 1990s as the gravel-voiced frontman for Soul Coughing. Fusing elements of pop, jazz, hip-hop and house music, the band had a sound all its own — but Doughty says he was never satisfied with it.
In his first semester playing football at San Diego State University, Gregory Porter severely injured his shoulder. Doctors told him his days on the field were over, but there was some good news: The school would let him keep his athletic scholarship. Suddenly without football, but with a lot of time on his hands, Porter searched for a new calling — and found it in his voice.