Oumou Sangare

December 6, 2007

oumou_sangare_l.jpgDuring a random film in my African Cinema class one rainy Monday evening, I was introduced to the name Oumou Sangare. Her voice faintly echoed in the background of one of the scenes of the rather unmemorable film and revived my otherwise waning interest. I wrote her name down in a notebook, and shortly after the conclusion of the movie, I found myself in a coffee shop with Sangare’s Myspace page pulled up on the laptop screen in front of me. As I clicked play for the first time on Oumou Sangare’s “Saa Magni,” I was immediately entranced in the song’s urgent beauty. The traditional Wassoulou sound this Malian siren is known for broke the emotional walls of my being as her voice resonated across the surface of my eardrums. Each lyrical line coming from the singer resounded with a sense of sorrow. But this sorrow was not singular. Rather it was coupled with a sort of strength and pride in the traditional roots of Mali. I was sucked in; held captive by words I did not understand. And yet I tried desperately to empathize with them at the same time.

Under the entrancement of such an addictive and powerful sound, I pulled up my iTunes music store and purchased “Saa Magni” and three additional songs. I was even more pleased to find that her sound didn’t become monotonous as I ingested the purchased repertoire. Dreams of Africa, a continent I have never visited, flooded over me like a wave break at sea. From the danceable, tribal vibes of “Baba” to the all too haunting trip-hop flavor of “Djorolen (Remix),” Sangare mystically seduced me into a state of removal. And there I sat helplessly hanging onto the words of this enchantress, oblivious to the bustling coffee shop around me.


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