Oumou Sangare (born February 25, 1968, in Bamako, Mali) is a Malian Wassoulou she's from a historic region south of the Niger River, and the music there is descended from traditional hunting songs. Wassoulou is a genre of West African popular music, named after the region of Wassoulou. It is performed mostly by women, using lyrics that address women's issues regarding childbearing, fertility and polygamy. Instrumentation includes soku (a traditional fiddle sometimes replaced with modern imported instruments), djembe drum, kamalen n'goni (a six-stringed harp), karinyan (metal tube percussion) and bolon (a four-stringed harp). The vocals are typically passionate, emphatic and in a call-and-response formatHer mother was the singer Aminata Diakité.
As a child, Oumou Sangaré sang in order to help her mother feed their family as her father had abandoned them. At the age of five, she was well known for her talents as a gifted singer. After making it to the finals of a contest for the nursery schools of Bamako, she performed in front of a crowd of 6,000 at the Omnisport Stadium. At 16, she went on tour with the percussion group Djoliba.She then worked with Amadou Ba Guindo, a great maestro of Malian music with whom she recorded her first album Moussoulou ("Women"), which was very successful in Africa with more than 200,000 copies sold.
With the help of Ali Farka Touré, Oumou Sangaré signed with the English label World Circuit. At the age of 21, she was already a star. Oumou Sangaré is considered an ambassador of Wassoulou; her music has been inspired by the music and traditional dances of the region. She writes and composes her songs, which often include social criticism, especially concerning the place of women and their low position in society.
Many of Sangaré's songs concern love and marriage, especially freedom of choice in marriage. Her 1989 album Moussoulou was an unprecedented West African hit. In 1995, she toured with Baaba Maal, Femi Kuti and Boukman Eksperyans. Other albums include Ko Sira (1993), Worotan (1996), and a 2-CD compilation Oumou (2004), all released on World Circuit Records. Oumou Sangaré supports the cause of women throughout the world. She was named an ambassador of the FAO in 2003 and won the UNESCO Prize in 2001 and a commander of the Arts and Letters of the Republic of France in 1998.
Sangaré is featured prominently in "Throw Down Your Heart," a documentary by world-renowned banjo player Bela Fleck. She contributed vocals to "Imagine" for the 2010 Herbie Hancock album, The Imagine Project along with Seal, P!nk, India.Arie, Jeff Beck, Konono N°1 and others. Since 1990, she has performed at some of the most important venues in the world: the Melbourne Opera, Roskilde festival, festival d'Essaouira, Opéra de la monnaie of Brussels.
Oumou Sangaré is also involved in the world of business, hotels, agriculture and the sale of cars: Oumou created an initiative in 2006 to import cars from China. "I make the most of my fame. My name sells things. With Oum Sang, I launched my own brand of car. She is the owner of the 30-room Hotel Wassoulou in Mali's capital, Bamako, a haven for musicians and her own regular performing space. "I helped build the hotel myself. I did it to show women that you can make your life better by working. And many more are working these days, forming co-operatives to make soap or clothes."
Although she also has been a goodwill ambassador for FAO she still says she does not want to be a politician: "While you're an artist, you're free to say what you think; when you're a politician, you follow instructions from higher up." (wise words indeed)
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Oumou Sangare helped modernize the acoustic-native mix of hunters' songs and sogoninkun dance music she grew up with. Finding her way to the city of Abidjan in 1989, Sangare cut a cassette that would eventually sell close to a quarter of a million copies, no mean feat considering the speed and number of bootlegs would have been sold. And while she would go on to cut albums with a mix of traditional and tastefully chosen Western elements, Moussoulou captures Sangare in all her sensual acoustic glory. Undulating atop a musical base featuring violin, the djembe goblet drum, a call-and-response choir, and the kamalengoni harp, Sangare daringly speaks out against such traditional practices as polygamy and arranged marriages. She fleshes out these modern views -- for Mali and many other African countries, at least -- with songs that both encourage her countrymen to recognize women as individuals and focus on a girl's struggle to reconcile old values with modern needs.
Oumou Sangare - Moussolou (91 84mb)
1. Djama Kaissoumou (6:46)
2. Diarraby Nene (5:18)
3. Woula Bara Diagna (5:19)
4. Moussolou (5:14)
5. Diya Gneba (4:53)
6. Ah Ndiya (4:29)
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