In the seaside Saharan country of Mauritania, Noura Mint Seymali was born into a Moorish griot dynasty, surrounded by the ecstatic sounds of this Arabic-influenced modal music. Her stepmother, Dimi Mint Abba, was one of Mauritania’s most powerful singers, and when Seymali started writing songs and singing backup for her at age thirteen, her father, a composer, encouraged Seymali to experiment with tradition. On two hypnotic albums, Seymali, her guitarist husband Jeich Ould Chighaly, bassist Ousmane Touré, and drummer Matthew Tinari popularize Mauritania’s traditional sounds into something rich and modern. They exchange electric guitar for tidinit (a four-stringed lute), and put drums and bass alongside the ardine, a calabash harp. Seymali’s songs, pairing modern rhythms with traditional poetry and melodies, are a roadmap forward for Mauritanian music, little known on these shores. In March 2018, Duke Performances brought some of the most musically fabled regions of the world to Durham with Black Atlantic, a weeklong festival in downtown Durham celebrating the music of Africa and the African diaspora. Musicians from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Venezuela, Mali, the Garifuna people of Honduras, and Spain took the stage at Motorco and the Carolina Theatre. “These six concerts,” wrote Duke professor Laurent Dubois, “remind us of common routes, of the ways Black Atlantic music has helped turn exile and exclusion into grounding and connection.” This season, Black Atlantic returns to Motorco (and adds one concert at Baldwin Auditorium) in search of more cultural connections and imaginative hybrids, with artists from South Africa, Congo, Uganda, Mali/Ivory Coast/France, Mauritania, Cuba, Niger, New York, and Brazil.