Legendary desert blues diva of Timbuktu Khaira Arby presents her fifth album, Gossip, her first since 2010's Timbuktu Tarab (CLE 005CD). Khaira was one of the first women to break onto the music scene in Mali in the late 1970s. Her powerful voice and dynamic stage presence endeared her immediately to audiences and she quickly became a sought after performer. Having won many awards including the prestigious Tamani d'Or (Golden Drum), Mali's Grammy, Khaira has kept pushing the boundaries of her genre. Not content to stay locked into traditional griot formats, her music has grown as she encounters other cultural influences. Mali is home to several ethnicities, each with their own traditional roots. Ethnomusicologists have written that the origin of the American delta blues is in the music of the Niger River delta as it flows past Niafunke, Timbuktu, and Gao. A cousin by marriage to Ali Farka Touré, who is credited by Westerners as the link to the roots of the blues, Khaira Arby is the female vocalist who most closely represents that tradition. Drawing on traditional songs, melodies, and formats from her youth, she freely adapts elements into many of the pieces on Gossip. While on tours in North America and Europe during 2010, 2011, and 2012, Khaira recorded the base tracks for the album, which takes its title from a translation of "Tchini Tchini," the first of the album's tracks to be recorded. During this same period, political and social conditions in Mali destabilized. Rebellion, coup d'état, corruption, invasion, fundamentalism all forced Khaira to abandon her home in Timbuktu and flee to the capital, Bamako. Since 2012, she has collaborated with a number of musicians on songs dedicated to peace. Gossip features two songs in particular from this troubled period: "Djamba" and "La Liberte," both pleas for tolerance and an end to conflict. The album also includes traditional wedding songs ("Al Jama'a Bisimillah"), songs of praise ("Haidara George" in honor of George Cheicknè Moulay, "Chris" in honor of Chris Nolan, "Oumou Sall" in honor of Madame Oumou Sall Seck (mayor of Goundam), and "Tandina" in praise of the Touré clan, in particular Hamane "Bastos" Touré, guitarist for Khaira until his death shortly before the song was recorded, and father of Khaira's present guitarist, Dramane Touré), and adaptations of traditional songs ("Alouha Homoli" and "Hala").