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Coumba Sidibé
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Musiques du Mali

Coumba Sidibé is one of the pioneering forces of that new generation of female singers from the Wassoulou region in the South of Mali, that emerged at the end of the 1980s, along with Oumou Sangaré, Kagbe Sidibé, Sali Sidibé and others. Different from the until then dominant malinké praise singers, these young artists addressed contemporary issues in their lyrics, such as social problems. Although the singers are mainly Peul they are singing in the wassoulou dialect of the bambara language.
The pentatonic wassoulou music itself is very distinct from malinke music and is reminiscent of the rhythms of Malian hunter music played with the Dozon N'Goni (hunter's lute), but using instead the smaller Kamelen N'Goni (6-string youth lute). Other instruments used are the traditional one-string violon, the soukou, the M'Bolon, djembé and also the electric guitar. The rhythms are repetitive and hypnotising, but there is room for improvisation on the string instruments.
Album cover 'Mansa'
Coumba sung from the age of seven, and started her professional career in the Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali in the 1970s. Her voice is rougher and jazzier than that of Oumou Sangaré, but less "arabic" flavoured than Sali Sidibé's voice. Although well-known in Mali, she never quite made it to international fame thusfar. Her recordings aren't that well distributed internationally, but a few songs can be found on the two Wassoulou Sound samplers released by Stern's Music.
Sadly, Coumba has passed away in New York, where she lived since years, on the 9th of May, 2009.

Style: wassoulou music.


Title Year Label Remarks
Mansa 2001 Mali K7 S.A. Buy this CD here
Djandjoba 2000 Camara Productions CD CK7 007
Sanghan 1995 Flash FDB 300017 Also on Shanachie SHA 65011
Wary 1991 Syllart 38111-2 Collection Mali Stars
? 1989? Syllart K7 Local cassette

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