Oumou Sangare

About

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”.


 

Artist Links: Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Wikipedia  |  Soundcloud

Areas of Representation: North America

Biography

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.”

 

Tour Dates

Future Tour Dates

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Videos

News

  • 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 ...

  • Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares included in NPR’s “The 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women” NPR has created “a list of the greatest albums made by women between 1964 and the present, as an intervention, a remedy, a correction of the historical record and hopefully the start of a new conversation. Compiled by nearly 50 women from across NPR and the public radio system and produced in partnership with Lincoln ...
  • Russia’s riot grrrl activists, Pussy Riot, bringing their psych rock theater production, “REVOLUTION” to SXSW and West Coast.

    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.”
    Based on the original novel by Maria Alyokhina, this show tells the story of everyday women gathering to resist the fascist regime of President Vladimir Putin. From their ...

  • Gisele João Headlines First NY Fado Festival Gisele João, Portugal’s most widely acclaimed fado singer to emerge in this decade, headlined the NY Fado Festival this past weekend at the Schimmel Center. Jon Pareles of the NY Times had this to say:
    “From her first song, “Madrugada sem Sono” (“Dawn Without Sleep”), Ms. João summoned a full spectrum of fado’s tempestuous passions, from ...


Press

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

Downloads/Media

Technical Riders:

Oumou Sangare Rider: Download (pdf)



 

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