On Sunday May 10* Coumba Sidibé has passed away in her home in the Bronx, New York.
Coumba Sidibé was certainly one of the pioneers of kamalen n'goni music in Mali, but never got the international recognition for this. A reason for this may have be that she left Mali in the 1990s, and via Abidjan and Paris settled in the US.
Rumour has it that she won a lot of money in a lottery in France, which allowed her to make this move. I would like to stress that this rumour has its origin in Mali, - a country where rumour and jealousy go hand in hand...
Musically Coumba's heyday must be sought in the the 1970s and 1980s; first when she was a star with the Ensemble Instrumental National ("Diya Ye Bana", her greatest hit from that period can be heard here), and subsequently after her magnificent performance on Malian television (at the time called RTM) in the mid-1980s, of which I have posted two tracks earlier ("Tolo" and "Noumouna Koulouba"), and of which I am posting the first track here. In this track Coumba is addressing the president, - at that time 'Balla' Moussa Traoré.
The second video is from Coumba's stay in France in the 1990s. It shows a very different Coumba Saba, compared to the rather timid, but vocally brilliant artist of the RTM performance. There is an element of 'swagger' in her appearance and she takes her time to receive the praise. Vocally she has lost some of the intensity she had in the RTM video. The track "Yali Djamou" was originally released on the cassette I posted earlier.
I am told that one of the two dancers/chorus girls is a daughter of Coumba (but I don't know which one).
I had planned to post the track "Saya Magni" (litt. "Death is no good") which is also on this video, but this song is spoiled by too many people crowding the stage....
With the death of Coumba Sidibé Mali loses another of the pioneering stars of the kamalen n'goni music.
* Afropop reports it was on May 9.