She has the appearance of a girl, - but one with a voice like a dagger. Na Hawa Doumbia is one of the great singers of the Wassoulou you can't help loving. Although she has wandered along a musical path I personally have no interest in following, I still admire her for the stubbornness and decisiveness in which she gone her own way.
Born in a village near the Ivorian border but raised in Bougouni (Sikasso region), Na Hawa started off in the Chant Solo category of the Biennale Artistique et Culturelle, with wonderful songs like "Nyama toutou" (1974), "Banani" (1978) - the song in the video at the bottom of this post - and "Tignè de be laban" (1980), with which she won first prize. From there she was allowed to participate in the Découverte competition of Radio France Internationale, where she was first in the category 'Songs with a traditional source'. This meant that she could perform at the soirée at the Théâtre Daniel Sorano in Dakar. Her performance accompanied by her guitarist (and husband) N'Gou Bagayogo attracted so much attention that was invited to record an album. This album, "Kourouni", released in 1981, was followed by a second, "Sakory Mery", in 1982 and by a third, "Korodia", in 1983.
This third album was Na Hawa's first attempt of finding her own way in music. It is a discovery of possibilities and perspectives. In fact, there is only one 'foreign' instrument in this album: the piano. But the way the piano interacts with guitar, kamelan n'goni and percussion is completely unique.
On the lp three* songs from the "Sakory Mery" album are repeated. The reason for this I don't know. Maybe she wanted to contrast the new songs with the old.
To me it doesn't matter, I still can't help loving this unique singer from Bougouni....
AS Records AS 011
Here is, as a bonus, a delightful video featuring Na Hawa performing her 1978 song "Banani" in the streets of Bougouni.
* I am only including two of these. I will post the other two albums at a later date. The posted tracks are, by the way, compiled from several cassettes.