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Oumou Sangare

Oumou Sangare is an internationally renowned award-winning singer, composer, business pioneer, and activist who champions women's rights in her native Mali and throughout Africa. Sangare's style is wassalou, a popular musical genre derived from folk traditions in the rural southwestern part of the country; that style has brought her international stardom.

Sangare was born in Bamako, the music and arts capital of Mali. Her earliest and most profound musical influence was her mother, Aminata Diakité, a migrant from the rural region, south of the Niger River. She was a sogoninkun, a professional singer most often hired for weddings and other ceremonial occasions. Sangare accompanied her mother often and by age ten was signing with her to help feed her family -- her father had abandoned them. Sangare began to sing on her own professionally at 13, and by the time she was 16, she was asked to join the Malian traditional group Djoliba Percussions as its lead vocalist. She toured Europe with the band and upon returning to Bamako, began writing and developing her own take on wassalou music with assistance from the migrant community.

In 1989, she took what she knew and traveled to Abidjan and encountered producer/promoter Ibrahima Sylla at his now legendary JBZ studio. He was impressed by the young artist and released her debut offering, a cassette titled Djama Kaissoumou, produced by Amadou Ba Guindo, leader of the National Badéma Du Mali. Its single, "Diaraby Nene," became a major domestic hit and spurred on sales of over a quarter million copies. It was picked up by Nick Gold's World Circuit label (through the intervention of Ali Farka Toure) and reissued as Moussolou ("Women") in 1990; it exploded all over Europe and Asia as well as on the continent of Africa.

Despite her sudden stardom, Sangare kept close to her Bamako roots. She issued the album Bi Furu independently a year later before returning to World Circuit for its major international release of Ko Sira in 1993. While remaining firmly in the wassalou style, the album was even more militant as its songs addressed feminist themes in lobbying against polygamy and enforced marriages that were widespread among West African women. In 1995, she did an international tour with Baaba Maal, Femi Kuti, and Boukman Eksperyans. She also gave birth to a son. Her next offering, Denw, in 1996, was issued by her homeland's Mali K7 SA on cassette. Sangare's breakthrough to U.S. audiences was 1997's Worotan; it received wide American distribution due to World Circuit's distribution deal with Nonesuch and WEA. Sangare toured the world's stages as a headliner, but the separation from her child, who was too young to travel, proved difficult. She essentially stepped away from music at her peak, but Sangare had invested her money well. She began running a hotel (Hotel Wassoulou in Bamako, which featured her own performing space), a farm, and other businesses. She provided for her family, and gave much-needed jobs to Malians. Even so, her profits went back into activism. In 1998 she received the Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters award in France. While major compilations appeared -- notably World Circuit's two-disc Oumou in 2004, she performed at festivals only occasionally. Sangare was never far from music, but it did take a back seat to her many other activities -- including launching her own car, the "Oum Sang", manufactured in China, for her company Gonow Oum Sang.

In 2006, Sangare re-emerged after a decade's absence from recording with Seya. It reached number six on the World Albums Charts in the U.S. and number one in several African and European countries. She undertook a select international tour that took her to several European and African nations. Kounadia was issued in 2012 but offered little in terms of fresh material. Her performances continued to sell-out virtually everywhere she performed. In 2016, Sangare inked a deal with the French indie label Nø Format and went back into the studio. She worked in Paris and Stockholm with French trio A.l.b.e.r.t. as her basic backing band and producers, and a slew of guest performers on African folk instruments. The set's first single, "Yere Faga," featuring Afrobeat drumming legend Tony Allen, was issued internationally in February of 2017, followed by the full-length Mogoya in May. ~ Thom Jurek
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: La paix (La paix au Mali et en Afrique)

1. La paix (La paix au Mali et en Afrique)

2. Sauvons les enfants (Sauvons les enfants en Afrique)

3. Soukora-Diaby

x

Track List: Moussowla Diala

1. Aw Bissimila

2. Be Ka Wili

3. Puissance

4. Moussowla Diala

5. Djorole

6. Puissance (Remix)

x

Track List: Mogo Te Diya Bee Ye (Jose Marquez Remixes)

1. Mogo Te Diya Bee Ye (Jose Marquez Remix)

2. Mogo Te Diya Bee Ye (Jose Marquez Dubstramental)

x

Track List: Worotan

1. Kun Fe Ko

2. N'guatu

3. Baba

4. Worotan

5. Denw

6. N'diya Ni

7. Tiebaw

8. Sabu

9. Fantan Ni Mone

10. Djorolen

x

Track List: Ko Sira

1. Kayini Wura

2. Sigi Kuruni

3. Mani Djindala

4. Saa Magni

5. Dugu Kamelemba

6. Bi Furu

7. Nawo Nawo

8. Ko Sira

Comments

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I love this song
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GREAT AFRICAN MUSIC
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Thank you Pandora for these great music may god bless.
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Her voice, her band, and her music makes my body move but makes my spirit dance.
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music55812
She is one of my absolute favorite singers of all time, and the band always makes music into a sublime listening experience!! !
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alpheusmathi s
Roots vibes from Mali........ n i c e
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Is it not true that music and musicians are being severely repressed in Mali these days?
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Thank you pandora .
Great selection.
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edalbershard t
iniche!
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I grew up listening to Oumou songs. She is a feminist to the core. She sings her song without any fear of being judge by the community. Most her songs are based on real stories which makes them even more interesting to us women
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One of my favorite Malian singers
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romankeno01
Irie vibration good music for the soul
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vonna2003
Can't understand her yet it is still breathtaking .
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Oumou Sangare is one the most successful female artists.She establishes the balance between the traditional jeli du mande et du Wassoulou.
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Oumou is a supreme diva. Have been listening to her for over 10 years now. Her music is a mixture of traditional and modern. Dr. Lucy Duran (google her) has done extensive interviews with Oumou in Mali broadcast on the BBC and other African music shows. Point of clarificatio n - Oumou was raised in Bamako. It is her mother who is from Wassoulou, thus she adopted the sound from there.
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queenmamaeue
Beautiful!
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mark87071
Oumou was featured on the Bela Fleck documentary Throw Down Your Heart. (available on Netflix streaming). The two songs she performed with him are very moving: Ah Ndiya, and the haunting Djorolen. She has an amazing voice.
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Wassoulou is in Mali, I believe
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cnouboussi
I am loving the music. Pandora, could you please be more specific in the biography? there are many countries in West Africa, so which country ( and maybe region) does Oumou come from? It makes a big difference.
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ellensalazar 1
I love her music and would love to see her perform.
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= )
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i like her music too
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chelsea0907
Simply breathtaking . My favorite artist of this genre. Truly motivating.
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Great sounds!
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nyjlal
I wish I could understand what she is saying but good music is good music. This is GOOD!
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I love her sound
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merah101
so powerful yet so tender voice. She is my new idol
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shoshiety2
spectacular voice with incredible resonance
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I just found her, what wonderful music.
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She is the Queen of Wassoulou for sure!
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mtnmusicgrrl
Beautiful! Wonderful! Marvelous! Catchy for sure - love it!
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This is good music indeed!
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Ayiii! You go girl!
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Listening to Oumou takes me back to my Peace Corps days in the Sikasso region of Mali... I can't get enough of her music!
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Mmmm... nice!
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robin.lattin
Yes..This is nice indeed!!!
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whitemorning
This is the stuff. What I've always been looking for.

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