Christopher Kirkley started traveling in the Sahara about four years ago. He was so taken with the guitarists and singers in places like Chad, Mali, and Niger that he started a small record label, Sahel Sounds, to bring this music to a wider audience.
But that wasn’t enough. Kirkley has now raised money through a Kickstarter campaign to make a Tamashek-(Tuareg) language film, conceived as an homage to Prince’s 80s classic, Purple Rain.
Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai (translated, it’s “Rain the Color of Blue with a little Red in it”) will feature Mdou Moctar, a musician Kirkley tracked down after hearing his songs shared from cell phone to cell phone across the Sahel.
Kirkley talks to April about why he finds the music compelling, how much is shared among Saharan fans, and how he plans to shoot the film.