Here's a story about a great singer from Mali and two generations of record producers from neighboring Senegal.

The singer's name is Kandia Kouyaté — she's a legend in Mali and many parts of West Africa.

The producer of Kouyaté's latest recording — which made my top 10 list for 2015 — had been Ibrahim Sylla. He was the founder of Syllarts, one of the best-known record labels in post-independence West Africa.

Sylla produced several albums with Kouyaté and in 2011, Sylla was hoping to get Kouyaté back into the studio to produce what would be her first recording in 13 years.

But Kouyaté was still weak from a stroke she had in 2004. Still, Sylla was determined.

"He still believed in Kandia, despite illness," says Binetou Sylla, Ibrahim's 27-year-old daughter. "He was also sick and maybe he was thinking at this time that it was the last chance for him to record an album with this artist, so I think all these things make that they record this album."

As Binetou says, her father was sick when the session with Kouyaté started. And mid-way through, producer Ibrahim Sylla died.

Binetou picked up her father's baton and completed the album for him. But Binetou didn't just do it for her father, she also recognized the importance of Kandia Kouyaté's music.

Kouyaté, she says, is one of the last living connections to an ancient musical tradition in West Africa.

"Kandia Kouyaté comes from the great tradition of djeli," Binetou says. "The last singer, the last Malian and Mandingo singer, who knows perfectly the art of the djeli. It's why she is so important."

Even among the djeli poets, troubadours and griots, Kandia Kouyaté has distinction as a ngara — a singer who possesses an aura of majesty.

So I asked Binetou is she worried this might be her last album given her health?

"No, no, no... I don't think that she's gonna finish her career. I think it's a new beginning. It's also why I choose the title of this album, it's a new beginning."

The title of Kouyaté's album is "Renascence," or rebirth.

It's both a hope and an assertion. Because it really doesn't sound like Kandia Kouyaté is retiring any time soon.

From PRI's The World ©2015 Public Radio International