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Biography of Oumou SANGARé

Mali > Music : Oumou SANGARé

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Born on 02/02/1968 (format : day/month/year)

Biography :

Oumou Sangaré (b.Feb 2,1968) is a Malian singer.

Oumou Sangare is the voice of feminism in West Africa. In a region where polygamy is the norm, and women are often viewed as the property of their husbands, Sangare's music has come to symbolize the struggle against gender imbalance. In addition to their social content, Sangare's songs are full of the joy and spirit that the traditional rhythms of Mali have been communicating for generations. Over the last few years, Sangare has become one of Africa's biggest pop stars, as well as a major force in the European and American world music scenes.

Oumou Sangare (born February 2, 1968 in Bamako) is a Malian wassoulou musician, sometime referred to as "The Songbird of Wassoulou." Wassoulou is a historic region south of the Niger River, and the music there is descended from traditional hunting songs, and is accompanied by a calabash. Her mother was the singer Aminata Diakité.

From her childhood, Oumou Sangaré sang in order to help her mother feed their familiy as her father had abandoned them. At the age of 5, she was well known for her talents as a singer after making it to the finals of a contest for the nursery schools of Bamako, and on this occasion she performed in front of a crowd of 6,000 at the Omnisport Stadium. At 16, she went on tour with the percussion group Djoliba.
She then worked with Amadou Ba Guindo, a great maestro of Malian music with whom she recorded the her first album Moussoulou (which means "women"), which received important success in Africa: more than 220,000 copies were sold (and doubtless many more pirated).
Thanks to Ali Farka Touré, Oumou Sangaré signed with the English label World circuit. At 21, she had become a star.
Oumou Sangaré is considered an ambassador of Wassoulou, her music has been inspired by the music and traditional dances of the region. She writes and composes her songs forcefully support social criticism, especially concerning the place of women and their low position in society.

After 1990, she has performed in some of the most important locations in the world: the Melbourne Opera, Roskilde festival, festival d'Essaouira, Opéra de la monnaie of Brussels.

Many of Sangare's songs concern love and marriage, especially freedom of choice in marriage. Her 1989 Moussoulou album was an unprecedented West African hit. In 1995, she toured with Baaba Maal, Femi Kuti and Boukman Eksperyans. Other albums include Ko Sira (1993), Worotan (1996), and a 2-CD compilation Oumou (2004), all released on World Circuit Records. Oumou Sangaré supports the cause of women throughout the world. She was named an ambassador of the FAO in 2003 and won the UNESCO Prize in 2001 and a commander of the Arts and Letters of the Republic of France in 1998.

Oumou Sangaré is also involved in the world of business, hotels, agriculture and the sale of cars: Oumou Sangaré has given her name to a Chinese automobile.


1991: Moussoulou
1993: Ko Sira
1996: Worotan
2003: Oumou

Prizes and Awards

Music Prize of 2001 for UNESCO for her contribution"the enrichment and the development of music as well as for the cause of pease, for the understanding among peoples and international cooperation".

Last update : 07/08/2008

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