The West African country of Mali is widely recognized as the birthplace of the blues, later carried by the transatlantic slave trade to America’s cotton fields. Yet despite centuries of rich tradition, the music and musicians of Mali are today in life-threatening danger. As radical Islamists introduce sharia law in Mali, dance and secular music are increasingly prohibited, musical instruments are destroyed, and musicians are forced to flee to protect themselves and their families. Mali Blues is a journey following four musicians: Fatoumata Diawara (Fatou), a rising star on the global pop scene who was memorably featured in Abderrahmane Sissako’s acclaimed drama Timbuktu; Bassekou Kouyaté, a celebrated ngoni player and traditional griot; Master Soumy, a street rapper; and Ahmed Ag Kaedi, leader of the Tuareg band Amanar and guitar virtuoso. Though each takes a different artistic approach, they all refuse to accept hatred, suspicion, violence or fundamentalism, and instead create music to unite, comfort, and inspire peace.