An upcoming show in the Cultural Affairs performance series will show how two creative artists in their own right can come together in a tour and make something new, a fusion of previously unheard sound that runs from Memphis to Mali.
Eric Bibb and Habib Koite’s show “Brothers in Bamako” combines Bibb’s delta blues, gospel and work songs of the Deep South and Koite’s music of his Mali, West Africa, home.
“It’s a fine example of contemporary culture,” said Diane Stern, the director of Cultural Affairs at Weber State University. “The simplest song is often the most effective, and singing as they do is a universal necessity.”
Bibb has appeared in Ogden three times before, as well as in Salt Lake City. Though Bibb and Koite have been friends for 10 years and have played together, this is their first time touring together.
“To see they were touring together — it was like cake with frosting,” Stern said.
Cultural Affairs, which Val Browning and Dan Martino set up in 1978, brings 6-8 events to the school each year. Stern, who began heading the program in 1999, said it was more traditional before and was associated with a music appreciation class Martino taught.
Stern is also chair of Utah Presenters. She selects the performers who will be seen each season, sometimes working to get certain performers over a several-year period.
“There’s no substitute for seeing something live,” Stern said. “By and large, artists are easy to work with. That’s why they’re still touring.”
The next step in the process is to book with the artist’s agent by region, or by state, as Stern did with Bobby McFerrin, one of the performers of the series this season, who will come in March.
“You get to know the people you resonate with and trust in terms of artist management and performers,” Stern said.
Since the last few years have been hard financially for many people, Stern said, she wanted to book a fun year. That’s why she started with Jake Shimabukuro, a ukulele artist. Stern said Shimabukuro was exceptional in his gratitude.
The Cultural Affairs season has another ukulele performance by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain planned for April.
“This is our town, and we have good, rich lives,” Stern said.
The pairing of Bibb and Koite will come to WSU’s Austad Auditorium on Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets available through calling 801-626-8500 or visiting the Dee Event Center or Browing Center Ticket Offices.