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Kandia Kouyaté, Mah Damba, Sali Sidibé, Oumou Sangaré

Kandia Kouyaté, Mah Damba, Sali Sidibé, Oumou Sangaré / The Divas from Mali

The Divas from Mali

These four outstanding veterans of the epic songs of Mali’s two largest ethnic groups spirit us far back into the history of the country’s ballad tradition. In the 13th century, Mali extended over an area that was almost the size of Europe. The singers look back with pride on this history. Whereas in former times music-making was the exclusive domain of men, since the country gained its independence women have secured themselves a position and range far ahead of the men on the popularity scale. It was Oumou Sangaré who made the Wassoulou sound with its funky rhythms world famous. She combines traditional and modern instruments and weaves new sound patterns into old melodies. A beautiful traditional recording introduces Sali Sidibé. Kandia Kouyaté is the grande dame of Manding song, and for many years she was the soloist with the National Ensemble. Under the starry canopy of the Sahara her powerful and seductive voice would charm any audience. Mah Damba too is from one of the country’s dynasties of great musicians. As in the case of Kandia Kouyaté, we hear her in the traditional trio ensemble with a balaphon player and a player of the "royal" kora or harp.

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