Posts Tagged ‘oumou sangare’

Introducing Songlines issue #127 (May 2017)

Posted on April 5th, 2017 in Features, Recent posts by .


The May 2017 (#127) issue of Songlines is now on sale!

Our cover star this issue is Oumou Sangaré, the Malian superstar who returns with a new sound and album – her first in eight years.




Also in this issue we announce the nominations of the 2017 Songlines Music Awards; Portuguese singer Ricardo Ribeiro speaks about finding his destiny and becoming a fadista; Indian sarod player Soumik Datta talks about his latest TV project, Tuning 2 You; we have an interview on board the National Geographic Orion with musical explorer and cultural specialist, Jacob Edgar; a report from Globaltica Festival in Poland; a Beginner’s Guide to dhol player Johnny Kalsi; plus the latest CD, DVD and world cinema reviews.




The  Top of the World CD includes Orchestra Baobab, The Hot 8 Brass Band, Baluji Shrivastav, Ibibio Sound Machine, Tunde Jegede & Derek Gripper, as well as a guest playlist from the American ‘Zaire 74’ concert producer Stewart Levine, featuring Cesaria Evora, Tabu Ley Rochereau and Franco.




To buy the new issue or to find out more about subscribing to Songlines, please visit:

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More acts announced for WOMAD Charlton Park 2017

Posted on March 30th, 2017 in Live, News, Recent posts by .


Orchestra Baobab, Oumou Sangaré and  Eliza Carthy & the Wayward Band are among the second wave of acts announced for this year’s WOMAD Charlton Park Festival from July 27-30.

Following February’s announcement of the first wave of acts heading to Wiltshire this year, WOMAD have revealed the latest surge of artists who will appear this coming July.

Iconic Senegalese band Orchestra Baobab take to the stage following the release of their new album Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng, the Malian vocal superstar and figure of African female emancipation Oumou Sangaré returns to the WOMAD stage for a much-awaited comeback, and folk powerhouse Eliza Carthy and her Wayward Band stop off in Wiltshire on a busy year of touring.


Other confirmed acts include:

Bixiga 70 (Brasil) 

Malmesbury School Project (UK)

Goat (Sweden)

Orkestra Mendoza (US)

Xáos (Greece/UK)

Bill Laurance (UK)

Tanzania Albinism Society (Tanzania)

King Gurcharan Mall and the Dhol Blasters (UK)

Ska Vengers (India)

Bonga (Angola)

Taiko Meantime (UK)

Inna de Yard (Jamaica)

Officina Zoé (Italy)

Meté Meté (Brazil)

Kuenta i Tambu (The Netherlands)

Beating Heart (UK)

Kakatsitsi, Gubi! Family and Bwiti (Namibia)


For tickets and more information visit


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Mali: discover the music

Posted on November 3rd, 2016 in Features, Recent posts by .


Today, Mali remains a wellspring of extraordinary music and culture. Here is our essential guide to Malian music, including revealing articles about leading musicians, from Ali Farka Touré to Songhoy Blues and Toumani Diabaté, and videos of exciting live performances. But we begin with an overview of the key artists and albums…



After much deliberation, we are proud to present the top 25 albums to come from Mali, reminding us that there is an endless amount to celebrate in its music.

Read the article: ‘Top 25 Mali albums’



Songhoy Blues won the Newcomer category in the Songlines Music Awards 2016. Hailed last year as ‘Mali’s Next Big Thing’, the young band have continued to ride on a much-deserved wave of success.

Read the article: ‘Songhoy Blues: Songhai Stars’ 



Recorded shortly before his death in 2006, Ali Farka Touré’s Savane took him to new heights of critical acclaim. “Absolutely perfect – a truly great piece of work,” was the judgement of Ry Cooder and it’s impossible to find a single voice raised in disagreement.

Read the article: ‘Ali Farka Touré: a beginner’s guide’



The South African guitarist Derek Gripper is intent on bringing new audiences to Mali’s kora repertoire. Simon Broughton talks to him, on his first visit to the country to meet the instrument’s most famous player.

Read the article: ‘Derek Gripper: kora quest’



Is it possible for any article about Amadou & Mariam not to include the words ‘blind married couple’ in the opening sentence? There, I’ve just gone and done it again. It is an odd kind of badging when we’re talking about musical communication that, after all, engages our ears rather than our eyes. As Mariam puts it, “People know we are blind, but it is our work that counts”.

Read the article: ‘Amadou & Mariam: a beginner’s guide’



The young Touareg band are striking out from under Tinariwen’s shadow and doing their own thing. Andy Morgan reports…

Read the article: ‘Introducing… Imarhan’



Nigel Williamson speaks to the Malian singer about her career, which has been dedicated to offering African women a voice and correcting gender inequalities.

Read the article: ‘Oumou Sangaré: a beginner’s guide’



The kora has become almost synonymous with the music of Mali. Nigel Williamson examines the career of its chief exponent Toumani Diabaté

Read the article: ‘Toumani Diabaté: a beginner’s guide’

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Oumou Sangaré: a beginner’s guide

Posted on October 28th, 2016 in Features, Recent posts by .


Nigel Williamson speaks to the Malian singer about her career, which has been dedicated to offering African women a voice and correcting gender inequalities

The moment that shaped Oumou Sangaré’s career occurred when she was just two years old. With her mother pregnant and struggling to bring up a brood of small children, Oumou’s father took a second wife, abandoned his family in Bamako and emigrated to the Ivory Coast. His desertion sank her mother, who made her living singing at weddings and baptisms, into a deep depression. But it also made her “a fighter,” a quality Oumou inherited along with her mother’s singing talent. At five years old she was singing with her and by the age of 13, she had become the family’s main breadwinner. “That’s what has given me strength in my life,” she says. “It was a very hard childhood and it gave me an incredible character. I can face up to any obstacle.”

The experience also informed her music and throughout her career she has used her songs as campaigning tools to improve the position of women in Mali and to oppose polygamy, child marriage and a system that defines a ‘good wife’ as a submissive woman. “Ever since I was a kid, I promised myself that one day when I have the kilos – when I can toss my weight around – I will scream about this problem to the whole world,” she said.

It was no coincidence then that her first album was titled Moussolou (which means ‘Women’); or that her next album included a song titled ‘Dugu Kamalemba’ (which translates as ‘The Skirt-chaser’); or that the title of her third album, Worotan (meaning ‘Ten Kola Nuts’), was a reference to the price of a bride in an arranged marriage.

She also wrote ‘Magnoumako’ (Agony) about her mother’s suffering, “how she wept, how she was marginalised, how she was ignored, how she struggled.” The song appeared on the 2003 two-disc anthology, Oumou. ‘How can an African woman hear that song without crying?’ she asks in the album’s sleeve notes.

“Women have a hard time in Africa. We have no voice; our men do all our talking for us,” she says. “My role is to speak directly to women both through my songs and setting an example and showing them that they can make their own decisions. I was the first one who started to speak out about correcting the inequalities and injustice that women still endure in Mali.”

Six foot tall, stylishly elegant, feisty and charismatic with a soulful, soaring voice, Oumou makes a striking role model. Born in 1969, her parents came from Wassoulou, a remote wooded region in southern Mali, which also straddles the borders of the Ivory Coast and Guinea. The area also boasts a rich and distinctive culture based around the special place in village life afforded to the traditional caste of hunters, whose music, played on the six-string donso ngoni harp, is believed to have magic powers.

Its hypnotic dance rhythms play a large part in Oumou’s music, although her recordings use the instrument’s higher-pitched non-ritual version, the kamelengoni, as she sings in the Wassoulou style known as koni (songbird), quite different from the griot tradition.

After joining the Djoliba Percussion band with whom she toured Europe in 1986 – and which also included in its line-up a young Toumani Diabaté – she recorded her debut album in the Ivory Coast at the age of 20. On its release in 1990, Moussolou was a sensation in Mali, selling more than 100,000 copies on cassette – and proving highly controversial, both for her espousal of women’s rights and the song ‘Diaraby Nene’ (The Shivers of Love), which shocked a highly-conservative society with its erotic expression of female sensuality.

“People couldn’t believe my music. They would say ‘what she sings about is heavy… she’s denouncing polygamy, she’s encouraging women to stand up to their husbands, she’s got guts’,” Oumou told musicologist Lucy Durán. “It was a kind of music revolution. Every household in Bamako had a copy of that record and my mother was so happy she cried.”

The album was released outside Europe a year later on World Circuit, after the label’s owner Nick Gold heard the record during a trip to Bamako. “You couldn’t escape that music and you didn’t want to,” he elaborates. “It was everywhere. As soon as you left a café where they were playing it, the baton was taken up by a passing car and then the next market stall. I spent a week in Bamako hearing Oumou wherever I went.”

It was the beginning of a long association with World Circuit for whom she went on to record three further albums between 1993 and 2009, the long gaps between record releases due in large part to an exhausting schedule.

On the international stage she won the UNESCO Prize, became an ambassador for the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation, collaborated and recorded with Béla Fleck and Dee Dee Bridgewater, duetted live on French TV with Alicia Keys and featured on the soundtrack of Beloved, the film based on Toni Morrison’s novel and starring Oprah Winfrey.

At home she built a significant business empire, owning and running a hotel (L’Hôtel Résidence Wassulu, conveniently located on the road from Bamako to its international airport), launching a range of 4×4 pick-ups and SUVs called the Oum Sang in partnership with a Chinese manufacturer and marketing Oumou Sangaré Rice, grown in her own fields.

Having left World Circuit after more than 20 years together, Oumou recently announced that she had signed to the French label No Format!, which will release her first new studio album in eight years in 2017.



(World Circuit, 1991)

The stunning debut that sparked a musical revolution in Mali and introduced her to the world. Recently reissued in a deluxe edition on 180-gram vinyl and on CD in a hardback case with a 32-page booklet.

Ko Sira

(World Circuit, 1993)

A brilliant follow-up that confirmed the arrival of one of Africa’s great voices on a set that gets the balance just right between Western guitar and bass and traditional West African instrumentation.


(World Circuit, 1996)

This is an exquisitely sensitive Nick Gold production, the African musicians are augmented by Pee Wee Ellis’ horn arrangements on four tracks and a lovely Nitin Sawhney cameo on acoustic guitar on the meditative closer ‘Djortolen’.


(World Circuit, 2009)

Surprisingly this was the first of Oumou’s international albums to be recorded at home in Bamako – and after a 13-year gap since Worotan, it’s also the most sophisticated and mature set of her career to date. A Top of the World in #58.



(World Circuit, 2003)

A two-disc career retrospective, containing a dozen of the best tracks from her first three albums plus eight new songs never previously released on CD, including her moving tribute to her mother on ‘Magnoumako’. A Top of the World in #21.

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