Sunday, August 18, 2013

Three Songs by Malian Wassoulou Singer Coumba Sidibe

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases three songs by Malian (West Africa) female vocalist Coumba Sidibe. Information about Coumba Sidibe and Wassoulou music, the type of music she is known for are also included in this post.

I'd appreciate it if someone who knows the language used in these examples would identify it and add a brief statement about what these songs are about. (Unfortunately, the only language I know is English.)

Thanks in advance!

The content of this post is presented for folkloric, entertainment, and recreational purposes.

All copyright remains with their owners.

Biography: Coumba Sidibe
"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 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 music 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. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi"

"Wassoulou (var. Wassulu, Wassalou, Ouassalou) is an historic region in southwest Mali, northeast Guinea (Prefectures of Kankan, Kerouané, Beyla, and Siguiri) and the area west of the Sankarani river and south of the Niger River in Mali and Côte d'Ivoire. Centered around the town of Yanfolila, (in the Cercle of Yanfolila, and the Sikasso Region, 150 km south of Bamako), historic Wassoulou has an estimated population of 160,000. Other towns in Wassoulou include Madina Diassa and Bougouni. The region is named for the Wassoulou river valley.

Wassoulou is not the name of any formal governmental entity in any of the three modern nations into which it falls, but rather an historic, cultural region. It should not be confused with the formal Regions of Mali, the Regions of Côte d'Ivoire, or the Regions of Guinea.

Wassoulou is best known internationally as the birthplace of Wassoulou music, a style which blends traditional and modern influences with strong female vocalists and a pentatonic hunter's harp. Wassoulou music is one of the two forms of West African music ethnomusicologists believe to be the origin of the American blues, which developed out of music forms dating back to the American slave trade from West Africa. Some of the most famous residents of Wassoulou include the singers Oumou Sangare, Ramata Diakite and Coumba Sidibe."

(These examples are posted in chronological order, with the oldest dated examples presented first.)

Example #1: Coumba Sidibe - Yali Djamou

WorldSrv, Uploaded on May 17, 2009

A video of a concert by Coumba Sidibé, star of the kamalen n'goni music of the Sikasso region in Mali. Recorded in the 1990s in Paris, France. Coumba Sidbé (born 1959) died in New York on May 10, 2009.
This video shows the West African custom of people giving performers paper money during their performance in appreciation of their talent & skill.

Example #2: Coumba Sidibe - Wary (Divas of Mali Vocal Performances From A Fabled Land)

theworldmusicplanet, Uploaded on Feb 8, 2012

The song 'Wary' from the 1996 album 'Divas of Mali: Great Vocal Performances From A Fabled Land' by Coumba Sidibe. She was a pioneer of the Wassoulou musical genre with her powerful voice, a deep knowledge of tradition and a commanding stage presence. She paved the way for women in West African music and specifically the Malian musical genre of Wassoulou. One of the best known Wassoulou divas, Oumou Sangare, was once a chorus singer in Coumba's music group.

Coumba was born into a musical family of singers and dancers in the village of Koniko, in Wassoulou, a region of southern Mali and northern Guinea and Ivory Coast that was once populated with nomadic Fulani (Peul) herders. Her grandparents were famous singers in the region, and her father was a renowned dancer.

Coumba Sidibe died in 2009 aged 50.

Example #3: Coumba Sidibé - Soli

ngoniba, Published on Mar 11, 2012
This is my favorite of the three featured examples. I love the song, the dancing, the traditional instruments, and the men & women's traditional clothing. But more than anything, I LOVE the scenes of the little girl dancing.

I wish that I knew what this song is about.

Thanks to Coumba Sidibe for her musical legacy. Thanks also to those who are quoted in this post, those who are featured in these videos, and those who published this sound file and these videeos on YouTube.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

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