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Oumou Sangaré: Mogoya

James Nadal By

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After an eight-year recording hiatus, Malian superstar vocalist Oumou Sangaré returns to the international spotlight with a new record, on a new label, but with the same steadfast focus on African women's rights. Mogoya is her first release on the Paris-based No Format indie label, after releasing five albums over twenty years with World Circuit. Sangaré has always stayed true to her traditional music and instrumentation, so this record is a bit of a production departure, leaning towards a crossover sound— blending modernity into the mix, while maintaining the distinct music of Mali in the forefront.

As with all of her previous material, Sangaré composed all the songs, and they continue to address what her listeners expect from her. She became an African legend by speaking out against the archaic social, religious and cultural customs which persistently plague the region, and she has a lot to say. The first number, "Bena Bena," deals with ingratitude or lack of appreciation, and the title track literally translates into people today, and their sincerity towards others.

Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen is guest artist on the anti-suicide "Yere Faga" and the electrified "Fadjamou," which stresses the importance of honoring the family name and ancestry. "Mali Niale," relies on the folkloric acoustic music that Sangaré represents so well, and is a call for the Malian diaspora to return home to make a difference in the future of the country. Benogo Diaketé is featured on the kameli n'goni (African stringed harp) on "Kamelemba," interplaying with Guimba Koyate, who plays electric guitar with a distinctive style and technique. This song has a parental guidance angle, as it is a stern warning for young girls to be wary of sweet-talking men. There is a popular Afro-pop dance flavor to "Djoukourou" that praises the friend and family support system, while "Kounkoun," preaches about the impropriety of slander and gossip. Sangaré's mother, herself a renowned singer, is acknowledged and praised on "Minata Waraba," performed with a recognizable Malian arrangement.

Though born in the Mali capital of Bamako, Oumou Sangaré is known as the "songbird of Wassoulou," which is her ancestral and spiritual home and whose musical heritage she upholds. Sangaré has been literally singing for her supper since the age of thirteen and has built her reputation, not on the quantity of records she has produced but the quality and significance of her message. As a beloved and emulated role model, she represents African women with dignity and grace, demanding the respect they deserve.

Track Listing: Bena Bena; Yere Faga; Fadjamou; Mali Niale; Kamelemba; Djoukourou; Kounkoun; Minata Waraba; Mogoya.

Personnel: Oumou Sangaré: vocals; Toni Allen: drums; Kandy Guira: backing vocal; Guimba Kouyaté: guitar; Benogo Diakité : kamele ngoni.

Title: Mogoya | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: No Format !

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