More People Should Really Know About: Adam Klein

© Jeff Shipman

Adam Klein is based in Atlanta, Georgia, having gravitated there from the nearby town of Athens. In the early part of this century, Klein spent a couple of years volunteering with the Peace Corps in West Africa. Klein found himself working in the Segou region of Mali, where he absorbed its musical and storytelling traditions. In 2010, he managed to raise enough money to travel to Mali’s capital, Bamako, where he recorded 12 songs, often in one take, with some of the country’s best musicians. The resulting record entitled ‘Dugu Wolo’ was released via Klein’s independent label, Cowboy Angel Music. There are many Western musicians who have recorded with their Malian counterparts, but Klein is probably the first to write and sing in Bambara, the language spoken by six million people. Klein is a versatile character, not only has he released eight albums, but he’s also an actor having appeared in a number of films and television series.

Dugu Wolo’ aside, Klein’s previous releases had mainly covered fairly traditional singer-songwriter topics, but with his 2023 album Holidays In The United States, he produced a, not always easy to listen to, classic, which details some uncomfortable truths. The album was a reaction to the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and many others, and the general racial injustice which still exists in America. It includes the epic, seven-minute-long ‘I-20’, which ends with Klein singing what seems to be an almost interminable list of people of colour killed by the police or who’ve died as the result of racially motivated crimes. The album ends on an optimistic note with ‘Bright Rails Shine’, a song Klein has called “a hymn to the promise of America”.

Holidays In The United States’ provides a twenty-first century template of what protest music should sound like. It will be interesting to see where Klein goes next, hopefully on to bigger and even better things.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
keith hargreaves

Love Adam Klein