Two days before the 2012 rebellion in northern Mali. Soldiers are everywhere. Guns mounted on pickups; low flying surveillance planes. Several thousand people have gathered outside Timbuktu to celebrate the music and culture of the Sahara at the 12th edition of the Festival au Desert. Three months later, Sharia descends on northern Mali. A millennial history is suppressed. Shrines destroyed. Secular music banned. Before, the streets were alive with music. Weddings, baptisms, celebrations always accompanied by griot praise songs, takamba dance rhythms and electric guitars. Then, even a musical ring tone on your portable phone can bring a beating. The Festival au Desert’s mission has been to bring cross cultural exchange to economically develop this desert region. These recordings are a testament to the brave efforts of Festival organizers to use culture as a means of nonviolent reconciliation. From the stage all the musicians begged for peace. “La Paix” shouted Khaira Arby. “Democracy” sang Tartit. And the crowds cheered their agreement. Capturing some of the anxiety, anticipation, excitement and fear of the people of Northern Mali in January 2012 immediately before a disaster descended on the region banning music altogether, these 18 tracks were recorded directly from the house sound board. It is not possible to include every artist who performed. This release preserves a moment in the history of the Sahara.