Stylish, elegant, feisty and charismatic with a soulful, soaring voice, Oumou Sangaré has become an emblem for African womanhood and makes a striking role model. She has used her songs to campaign fearlessly 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. “Women have a hard time in Africa. We have no voice; our men do all our talking for us,” Oumou 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”.
Areas of Representation: North America
Stylish, elegant, feisty and charismatic with a soulful, soaring voice, Sangaré has become an emblem for African womanhood and makes a striking role model. Born in 1969 in the Malian capital of Bamako, the moment that she defines as shaping her career occurred when she was just two years old: Oumou’s father took a second wife, abandoned his family and emigrated to Côte d’Ivoire.
Her mother, a singer who made her living performing at traditional wedding ceremonies and baptisms, sank into a deep depression at this desertion. But it also made her “a fighter”, a quality Oumou inherited in abundance along with her mother’s singing talent. By the time she was five, mother and daughter were singing together and by the age of thirteen, Oumou 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 years of poverty and sorrow also informed her music and throughout her career she has used her songs to campaign fearlessly 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 I will scream about this problem to the whole world,” she says.
It was no coincidence that her first album was titled Moussolou (the title means ‘women’); or that her next album, Ko Sira, 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.
Her mother’s spirit continues to inspire her music and one of the key songs on her latest release, Mogoya, is “Minata Waraba” (‘Aminata the Lioness’), a tribute to her maternal courage and resilience. “Women have a hard time in Africa. We have no voice; our men do all our talking for us,” Oumou 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.”
- Paul Krugman; DakhaBrakha in Kiev
Friday Night Music: Dakhabrakha in Kyiv
New York Times
September 15, 2017 12:22 pm
Since that’s where I am at the moment. It is, by the way, a surprisingly handsome city. Just looking at the city center you’d have no idea how much stress Ukraine is under.
For those who haven’t seen previous clips, no, they aren’t doing ...
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 2/24/2017
Russia’s riot grrrl activists, Pussy Riot, reveal a 9 date West Coast warm-up tour around the SXSW premiere of their psych rock theater production, “REVOLUTION.”
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“From her first song, “Madrugada sem Sono” (“Dawn Without Sleep”), Ms. João summoned a full spectrum of fado’s tempestuous passions, from ...
“One of the great queens of Malian music“ – ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE
“An object lesson in how to update the West African Sound” – FINANCIAL TIMES
“Mogoya se situe parmi les grands disques de la musique africaine“ – MAGIC
La plus grande des chanteuses africaines” – LES INROCKS
Oumou Sangare Rider: Download (pdf)
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