Malian singer and composer Khaira Arby, known as “the diva of Timbuktu”, has died at a hospital in the capital Bamako. She was 59.
Arby is credited as one of the first women to break onto Mali’s music scene in the 1970s, according to news site MaliWeb.
A native of the northern city of Timbuktu, she was notable for performing in multiple languages – Arabic, Bambara, Fula, Tamasheq, Songhay and French.
After insurgencies by Islamist and Tuareg separatist groups in 2012, northern Mali remains unstable but is under government control with the help of thousands of troops supplied by regional neighbours and France.
Locals were thrilled when Arby performed at the Timbuktu Renaissance festival earlier this year. Singing had previously been banned under the Islamists.
Watch Arby sing one of her best-loved songs, Sourgou, at a live performance a few years earlier: