Thursday, April 12, 2007


Oumou Sangare was born in 1968 in Bamako, the capital of Mali, her family, though, was from Wassoulou, in the southwestern region of Mali. Sangare is the leading female star of the Wassoulou sound. Wassoulou is typified by a strong Arabic feel along with the sound of the scraping karinyang, women play the fle, a calabash strung with cowrie shells, which they spin and throw into the air in time to the music.

Sangare began her music career at the tender age of five whilst accompanying her mother to events and celebrations.In her late teens Sangare toured Europe and the Caribbean with a 27-piece folkloric troupe, and at 21 she already had a huge hit in the album, Moussoulou (means “women”) which sold over 200,00 legal copies and many more in the illegal pirate cassette trade.

"Oumou Sangare captivates her audience not only because of her inherent talent, but because she bridges the divide between traditional Africa and the cosmopolitan Africa." Africa Sounds

Sangare most often sings about about love and the importance of freedom of choice in marriage, an issue she feels strongly about because her father had two wives which Sangare thought was a “catastrophe.” At the age of two when Sangare's mother was pregnant her father took off to Ivory Coast with another woman leaving her mother and her three siblings to fend for themselves.

“With my music, I can spread the word, and I know I am strong enough for the battle. I know that we , the women of Mali, can reverse this trend. It is not for the whites to change, but polygamy is for us, ourselves, to challenge. I will fight polygamy until my death.”Africa Sounds

A rebel for women’s causes, Sangaré challenges long-standing practices of arranged marriages and polygamy.

Polygamy is false, it is dishonest, and it is not a happy situation for the woman. Polygamy is the suffering of the woman. I was born at a unique moment in Mali’s history, as it was precisely this time when [the institution] of polygamy began to be challenged…a man must love only one woman, he must respect his wife, and respect his children, with one hundred percent of his love and attention. Even if he dies, on the day that he is no longer there, his children will be better off and have less problems.Africa Sounds

Oumou explained her experience while in Swaziland. “We were performing before the King of Swaziland, who is the same age as me but already has seven wives, and his father had had thirty two! Now you know that Oumou sings against polygamy, I detest polygamy, so there I am ready to sing my music, and the King was sitting like this, directly in front of me, with three wives on one side, and four wives on the other. So I began to sing, “Polygamy is the worst of all things!” And there was nothing that he could do, and everyone cried out and couldn’t believe their ears!”

Musically, Sangare sticks to her roots, rejecting electronic instruments and limiting her sound to kamele ngoni, djembe drum, violin, flute, guitar, bass, the scraped, metallic karagnan and her own heart-tugging voice.

The 6 foot, melodious, beautiful and stylish Sangare is a true diva of Malian Music

Listen to Sangare
Fallin' with Alicia Keys

More Information

Oumou Sangare
Afropop Worldwide

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