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Oumou Sangare


The songbird of Africa, Oumou Sangare has a voice that's unforgettable -- a rich, full tone that maintains control while scaling the highest registers or emitting a spine-tingling sustain. Her first recording, Moussolou, sold over 200,000 copies in west Africa, an unprecedented feat. Sangare has enhanced and refined the deep musical traditions of the Wassolou region of Mali; traditional instruments used in her songs include the kamalangoni (a staccato-sounding string instrument), the bolon (a wooden marimba), the Peul flute, and djembe drums and percussion. To complement her ethereal singing, she adds horns (arranged by James Brown veteran Pee Wee Ellis) that offer unusual, soulful accents. Meanwhile, violins, electric bass and patterned guitar combine with shakers and scrapers to produce hypnotic patterns. At times controversial, her lyrics put a woman's perspective front and center and make her a spokeswoman for a new generation of African women.

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