by Sky Disco
Since I didn’t get to fly home this year for Thanksgiving, my experience of seeing Leni Stern perform at Iridium last Wednesday became my holiday. The absolute joy that Leni and the members of her band displayed as they struck each note spread through the space like an earthy aroma.
Smoke, No Fire, Stern's 13th release, was recorded in Bamako, Mali. Live, Stern's sound was so intimate it felt like I was being led on a tour through a small West African town—a community circle where history, legends, and myths are shared. Stern's electric guitar blended jazz with traditional African rhythms, triggering swaying movements that began at the torso.
After her set, I wanted to talk to Leni about her music, but instead joined in on a larger conversation about her experiences in Mali. The great civil unrest that has overtaken the country presents many perils to visitors of other nationalities, where kidnappings and capital crimes are rampant: I even learned that it's wise to have a bodyguard if you're an albino, since albino blood is believed to have magical powers. There were beautiful stories about fun times during every new moon, when kids are gifted with candy and coins. As I listened, I soon realized that all of these experiences directly contributed to the healing energy of her music.
Leni Stern is a messenger armed with a voice, guitar, and lute. She delivers love, hope, and freedom of spirit, with her songs awakening the soul.