Routes in Rhythm 2004
Thursday 24th February 2004 8pm Liberty Hall Eden Quay D1
Mali is the jewel in the crown of African art and culture, a creative powerhouse in perpetual evolution, constantly renewing itself from a deep musical well that embraces the sacred and the secular, the earthy and the sophisticated . Oumou Sangare is Mali’s greatest diva and proprieter of one of the world’s most astonishing voices.
Oumou drew deep from that well, as she reimagined the hypnotic music of Southern Mali to create her trademark wassoulou style, and in the process forged a new sound for West Africa, an alternative to the ancient and more austere griot tradition of the Jalimusas, or praise singers. While her music is rooted in the old instrumentation, her songs are full of candour and defiance, addressing the struggle for emancipation in a patriarchal society, the conflict between tradition and modernity, and the many pressing issues for African Society today.
These uplifting social narratives are performed to the accompaniment of what are surely some of the world’s most beautiful instruments, including the regal kora, the sumptuous 21 stringed harp that is central to Malian music, and the hypnotic grooves of the balafon, with its ingenious system of rosewood keys and dried resonating gourds. Guitar and the lute like ngoni add further texture and the djembe drum adds pulse, while the unmistakably sensuous sound of Malian backing singers spur Kouyate on to further heights of lyrical exaltation.
She has returned to the international stage With Laban, her first release in seven years for World Circuit, and a worthy follow up to her seminal albums of the 90s Worotan, Moussoulou and Ko Sira. With her imposing stature, arresting beauty and that soulful, passionate voice, her first performance in Ireland will leave you in no doubt as to why she ranks among Africa and the world’s greatest living singers.