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  • Watch: Fatoumata Diawara Gathers Malian Artists As Voices United for Mali to Record Song for Peace

    In response to the current situation in Mali, Fatoumata Diawara has gathered together over 40 of Mali’s most renowned musicians in a studio in Bamako to record a song and video calling for peace titled "Mali-ko" (Peace / La Paix). Known collectively as Voices United for Mali, the group includes Amadou & Mariam, Oumou Sangare, Toumani Diabate, Afel Bocoum, Bassekou Kouyate, Vieux Farka Toure, and others. Watch the video and read the lyrics and their translation here.

  • Emmylou Harris, Rokia Traoré, Fatoumata Diawara, Oumou Sangare Support "Half the Sky" With Free Downloads

    Emmylou Harris, Rokia Traoré, Fatoumata Diawara, and Oumou Sangare are participating in 30 songs / 30 days, in which female musicians from around the world have come together to support the Half the Sky movement. Through the 30 songs / 30 days project, one song per day is available to download for the month of September and leading up to the October 1 & 2 premiere of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a four-hour PBS documentary inspired by the widely acclaimed book of the same name by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. 

About this Album

In 1989 Oumou Sangare, a young singer from the Wassoulou region of southern Mali, went into the JBZ studio in Abidjan to record her debut album. Except for electric guitar and bass, the line-up was traditional – kamalengoni or 5-string “youth’s harp”, karinyang (iron scraper) and violin (substituting the local one-string fiddle). The music they recorded on Moussolou (“Women”), was exactly the kind of music you might have heard 50 years ago in the forest of Wassoulou-- music performed by hunters to charm the wild animals and invoke the protecting spirits, but with updated lyrics reflecting the concerns of young women living in African cities today.

The music of Wassoulou, with its funky beat and strong melodies, had become increasingly popular in Mali over the previous few years. But no one could have foretold the wild success of Moussolou, which within a few months sold over two hundred thousand copies in West Africa alone – not counting bootlegs. This was Mali’s best selling cassette ever.

Oumou Sangare trained first with the Mali National Ensemble and then left to join the independent group Djoliva Percussions, with whom she toured France and the UK in 1986. Shortly after her return from Europe Sangare began working with the revered arranger Amadou Ba Guindo. Together with a group of musicians that included Boubacar Diallo on guitar and Aliou Traore on violin, Sangare and Amadou Ba set about constructing a tight and highly individual sound, aiming for something rooted in tradition, yet unique and modern at the same time.

In its own way Moussolou, a collection of six original Sangare compositions, represented something of a revolution in the way African music is recorded and produced: synth and drum machine-driven pop traded for crystal clear, sparse sound based on traditional and acoustic instruments. These arrangements proved an ideal setting for Sangare’s singular voice, and the powerful message of her lyrics, which address the problems of young Malian women torn between the old values of the countryside and the modern ways of city life, established Sangare as an artist who is as uncompromising a musician as she is a social thinker.

The success of Moussolou put Sangare firmly on the West African map. Two subsequent releases, Ko Sira ( released in the US by World Circuit / Nonesuch in 2000) and Worotan (released in 1997), and two successful tours of the US have received widespread critical acclaim and have made her dynamic presence known to a growing legion of enthusiastic fans.


This album is available from Nonesuch in the United States and Canada only.

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