Slowly but surely, Oumou Sangaré has become one of the leading figures in Malian music over the years. Her warm voice, sense of rhythm and iron will have enabled her to reach the peak of her art.
Born in 1969 in Bamako, the Malian capital, Oumou Sangaré was raised by her mother alone, in a setting where finding something to eat was a daily challenge. Her mother made her living by singing at festivities such as weddings and baptisms. Starting at age 5, Oumou accompanied her on a regular basis at ceremonies and, a few years later, she took up the torch, which she would continue to hold proudly and which would give her the strength to overcome every obstacle that stood in her way.
At age 18, as she was singing in the street, she was picked out by Lamine Sidibé, who headed Mali’s instrumental orchestra. She later joined the Djoliba percussion group, led by Bamba Dembélé (and including a certain Toumani Diabaté) and began touring in Europe. On stage, she often performed songs by Coumba Sidibé, a famous Wassulu singer from the 1970s and 1980s. The music of the Wassulus, the southern Malian ethnic group from which Oumou Sangaré’s mother originated, has the reputation of assuming magical powers, including that of protecting hunters. The beats often show an undeniable hypnotic strength. Oumou Sangaré’s entire career would bear the stamp of this music.
Back in Mali, she created her own group and, after going on national television, was offered a new motorcycle by an admirer as a way of giving her confidence in her future! At that time she made the acquaintance of bass player and arranger Ahmadou Ba Guindo, who gathered a group of musicians around Oumou. In 1990 there emerged her first album, Moussoulou (Women). Her lyrics dealt with subjects that were taboo in conservative Mali. Oumou Sangaré used them to encourage freedom for women, denouncing polygamy and forced marriages. The album was a huge success and led her to be noticed by World Circuit Records, which brought the album out internationally.
Since then, with growing success, she has brought out four more albums, the latest one titled Seya (Joy). She continues to fight for women’s rights and also defends children’s rights..
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Concerts of the artist:
Festival International Nuits d'Afrique -Compilation 2011