OUMOU SANGARE & IDRISSA SOUMAORO / Oumou Sangare & Idrissa Soumaoro Mixtape”

We are back in Mali—this time featuring two highly respected Mali musicians.
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OUMOU SANGARE is one of the grand ladies of Mali song. She is more than merely an entertainer, more even than an exalted artist. She is a highly respected advocate for women’s rights, promoter of education and an entrepreneur fostering the development of Malian businesses.

Indeed, a brief thumbnail sketch is almost unbelievable. She owns and operates a hotel. She addressed the problem of second-hand vehicles imported from France by starting a deal with the Chinese to import autos (which incidentally were named after her). She took time out (ten years) from a very lucrative career to devote to rearing her son and managing her business—oh, yeah, she owns a farm near Bamako. And so forth.

For Oumou Sangare music is not just a personal expression, her songs are also a vehicle to advance social issues.

I wish I had translations of her songs to share with you. Unfortunately, I don’t. I can only say to you that this music is about more than just singing and dancing.
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I can share with you this quote from Oumou:

For me, the lyrics are more important than the melody. I write almost all my own words. I also perform the classics of Malian tradition.  I draw a lot of inspiration from what happens in society.  As soon as I see or feel something, I write it down.  I say what I want, and what I think, because I am a free woman. I believe that my music has had an impact on the life of African women. It's true that when I sing it's joyful but in amongst that joy I always take the opportunity to slip in messages that educate my nation.
—Oumou Sangare
While Africa has great problems, Africa has an even greater potential, and more importantly, Africa has talented individuals who accept the responsibility to use their individual talents to advance their community. Socially responsible artistry is a very difficult proposition and far from easy to achieve.

Oumou I salute you—you are leading by example.
* * *
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IDRISSA SOUMAORO has a story that can be summed up in two notes.
One: after thirty-seven years in the music business Idrissa released his first album. Thirty-seven years! Kote has received acclaim both at home in Mali and abroad, where it has won numerous awards.

The album is both modern and traditional. It’s blues and it’s Malian. It’s such a perfect hybrid.
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Two: Idrissa has received degrees from the Univeristy of Birmingham (England) in education with a concentration on Braille. He returned to Mali and teaches blind students, some of whom are now professionals including artists such as the successful Malian duo: Miriam and Amadou.
* * *
This is far as I can go. I don’t speak the languages. I don’t have detailed knowledge of the Malian cultures on which this music is based. Indeed, I am not a guide—I am an usher sharing with you some fascinating music I have encountered.

Take a seat. This is modern music from Mali. Enjoy.

—Kalamu ya Salaam

Oumou Sangare & Idrissa Soumaoro Mixtape Playlist

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From Oumou Sangare’s most recent album, Seya (Joy)
01 “Kounadya”
02 “Wele Wele Wintou”
03 “Senkele Te Sira”
04 “Seya”
05 “Koroko”

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From Idrissa Soumaoro’s album Kote
06 “Cherie”
07 “N'taki”
08 “Lacoli Karamogo”
09 “Gni Djougou"
10 “Ouili Ka Bô”

This entry was posted on Monday, August 3rd, 2009 at 5:45 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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