Posts Tagged ‘kandia kouyaté’

New Apple Music playlist: African Queens

Posted on September 30th, 2016 in Features, Recent posts by .


The late, great Miriam Makeba was universally known as ‘Mama Africa’ for both the warmth of her music and her courage and resilience in the face of adversity. An iconic figurehead for African womanhood, she rightly kicks off this playlist of divas and songbirds who have followed in her formidable footsteps, drawn from every music-rich corner of the African continent. Playlist by Nigel Williamson for Songlines. (Photo of Angelique Kidjo by Gilles Marie Zimmerman).

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Kandia Kouyaté – Renascence | Album Review | Top of the World

Posted on January 4th, 2016 in Recent posts, Reviews by .


Words by Nigel Williamson

Kandia Kouyate - Renascence Cover

Against all odds: a comeback record from Malian superstar

Given her status as the queen of the Mande griots, it comes as a shock to realise that this is only Kandia’s third proper solo album in a career dating back 40 years. A superstar in Mali, whose forte was always the live recital, for years her only recordings were semi-authorised local cassette releases. Producer Ibrahima Sylla finally coaxed her into a professional studio for the first time in 1999 to record Kita Kan. It was followed by 2002’s Biriko but in 2004 she suffered a stroke and for seven years was barely able to speak, let alone sing. Eventually in 2011 Sylla persuaded her it was time to return. But in 2013, halfway through the recording of her comeback album, the producer died, leaving his daughter Binetou to complete the project.

Despite these adversities, Renascence is a magnificently defiant return that fully justifies the boldness of its title. Kandia literally had to re-learn how to sing but the majestic contralto voice is still potent – deeper and somewhat darker than before – on a set of songs predominantly in the traditional Mande praise style. Traditional percussion and stringed instruments – balafon, ngoni, djembé and kora – are tastefully augmented by electric guitar and the subtle, synthesised string orchestrations of François Bréant.

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