Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Queen of Wassoulou




Kudos to The Lost Maestros for posting this wonderful video (from World Service's YouTube channel) of the Malian diva Coumba Sidibe. I have nothing to add to their summary of her career:

Mali's Coumba Sidibe was a pioneering force behind the evolution of wassoulou, the earthy, propulsive music that first captured the imagination of west African listeners in the mid-'70s. A singer of elemental power, she set the stage for a generation of artists including Oumou Sangaré, Issa Bagayogo, and Nahawa Doumbia, although their international fame consistently eluded her. 
Born in Koninko, Mali in 1950, Sidibe began singing at regional harvest festivals at the age of seven, following in the footsteps of her father Diara, a famed dancer and sorcerer skilled in the ecstatic percussion and dance tradition known as sogoninkun, and her mother, a vocalist of great local renown. 
The first female member of l'Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali, a state-sponsored orchestra created to represent the nation's folkloric traditions, Sidibe exited their ranks in 1977 to team with Alata Brulaye, the creator of the kamelengon, a six-string harp modeled on the sacred dosongoni, an instrument effectively off limits to popular musicians. 
The kamelengoni's funky, percussive sound quickly emerged as the foundation of the wassoulou aesthetic, a neo-traditional style that threatened the long-standing cultural dominance of Mali's jelis, the music-making caste whose roots date back to the 13th century. While the jelis performed traditional songs targeted to the wealthy and powerful, the so-called "kono" (i.e., the predominantly female "songbirds" at the forefront of the wassoulou movement) addressed contemporary themes like romance and feminism; hits like "Diya ye Banna" earned Sidibe the unofficial title "Queen of Wassoulou," and her backing group Le Super Mansa de Wassoulou was the launching pad for future superstars including Sangaré, arguably the most successful Malian artist of her generation. While a revered figure in her homeland, Sidibe never attracted the attention of the world music cognoscenti, and in the late '90s she and her family relocated to New York City, where she headlined a Sunday night residency at Harlem's St. Nick's Pub. Sidibe died in Brooklyn on May 10, 2009.
Today I present two cassettes from the early '90s by Sidibe. Here's the first, Wary (Shakara Music SHA 09032):

Coumba Sidibe - Wary

Coumba Sidibe - Mougoukan

Coumba Sidibe - Didady

Coumba Sidibe - Kana Kassi

Coumba Sidibe - Konyan

Coumba Sidibe - Nalena

Download Wary as a zipped file here. And here's the second, Dounouyan (Shakara Music/Syllart SHA 02901):

Coumba Sidibe - Dounouyan

Coumba Sidibe - Ninin

Coumba Sidibe - Baba

Coumba Sidibe - Tché Kani Wélé

Coumba Sidibe - Héé!! Ndanani

Coumba Sidibe - Ka Lonongon Yan

Download Dounouyan as a zipped file here.

More music by Coumba Sidibe is available on the Sterns compilations The Wassoulou Sound: Women of Mali (STCD 1035, 1991) and The Wassoulou Sound: Women of Mali Vol. 2 (STCD 1048, 1994), available through the usual purveyors. The Lost Maestros, by the way, is a wonderful effort to bring back to light some of the forgotten masters of Malian music. Read this article (in French) here, or go to the Facebook page here.


8 comments:

Issa said...

Thanks a lot for lightning this very great malian singer... RIP Coumba Sidibé.
Many thanks for sharing so many african gems on your blog, and shame on who are using your work to make money in Kenya or anywhere else...

ngoni said...

Thank you very much for sharing this music, and also for supporting the initiative, of "The Lost Mastros" an initiative that starts in Africa, a group of entrepreneurs who try to recover forgotten music and musician in Mali, from the Mali heart, and of course discover new talents.


About the video you present, you better watch it on the source channel, they took it from the WorlDsv channel,

https://youtu.be/VQ4NrXPq0eQ

By the way, from here I beg Stefan once again, to post another part of that fabulous video.

John B. said...

Thanks, Ngoni. I wasn't aware that the video was originally on Stefan's YouTube channel, and I've amended the post accordingly.

Sanaag said...

Thanks a lot,John!

Anonymous said...

Strong memories of hanging out in NYC at St. Nick's pub (now sadly burnt down) on 'african saturday nights' and having Coumba sit in and belt it out with the diverse group of African musician expats living there in the early 2000's.

Lil Carlos said...

Gostei dos teus artigos

carlostrack.blogspot.com

WrldServ said...

If you ask me I prefer the older video every time. That is Coumba Saba at her very best. That was the voice that inspired many.
https://youtu.be/gQe5nCk2l24

WrldServ said...

And, while I'm at it, I also prefer the older cassette I posted
here.