Saturday, July 21

Oumou Sangaré, "Giving Voice to Those Who Often Go Unheard"

And the song’s intent was complicated: half party, half protest, invoking the joy of a voluntary wedding while inveighing against forced ones. It spoke to fathers: “I say that if a girl is not mature, she should not get married,” run its lyrics in the Bambara language. “She starts to understand life when puberty arrives and her breasts start to grow/Before then, you’re only destroying her life.” [NYT review 2009]
That's Oumou Sangaré -- always the light touch with serious subjects but a great polemicist with song; years ago she refused to go into politics in Mali saying she had more influence by staying with singing.

I can't remember which year I discovered Oumou and posted some of her songs here but a few months ago I went looking for my top favorite video recordings of her songs at YouTube and found they'd all been removed. Copyright issues, perhaps. Then last night I started thinking of her rendition of "Senkele" performed in Berlin in 2009 at the House of World Cultures; listening to it would be a great way to depressurize from a chaotic news week. 

So here is "Senkele" again before it too disappears. As to the meaning of the lyrics -- Mariam Conde, a YouTube viewer, explained the gist:
she's right - no matter what you do, either good or bad, there'll be someone to say something about it. ...  not everyone is going to like you and you're not going to like everyone.
And yes, as another YouTube viewer excitedly pointed out, one of the backup singers is indeed Fatoumata Diawara, which I might have mentioned the last time I posted the rendition. Anyhow, she's the singer on the far right of the stage. 


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