Sali Sidibé is one of the great singers of the kamalen n'goni music. She has been active as a professional artist for nearly thirty years. She was a member of the Ensemble Instrumental National in the earlier 1980s, when she recorded this cassette. I have read somewhere* that she made her first cassette in 1989, but this cassette is proof of the inaccuracy of this.
Like many of the Wassoulou kamalen n'goni style Sali uses songs from the hunters' repertoire, but -while staying with the original theme - reworks them for others purposes, i.e. mainly to convey social 'instructions'. She warns of the risk of bush fires, advises not to judge people by their appearance, urges not to go for the short-term gain of the individual but for the long-term benefit of the community. Sali's instructions have at times been misinterpreted as criticism of certain politicians, but according to those who have worked with her it is very unlikely that the criticism was intentional.
Musically Sali Sidibé has stayed closed to her roots, incorporating traditional instruments in her ensemble. When I bought this cassette, I was told that Alou Fané was accompanying her on kamalen n'goni, but Alou himself later denied this. Others assured me Zani Diabaté was the guitarist on this cassette, but although the guitar style is similar to Zani's I don't think this is true either (I'll have to ask Zani about this one day...).
CMcalls STA 835
On later cassettes (and I'll post some of those later) Sali has used a wide scope of traditional and modern instruments, but the focus has always been on instruments that are also used in the traditional music of the Wassoulou region. In this video from the late 1980s (I estimate it is from 1987 or 1988) the sokou (bambara fiddle) plays a prominent role and is supported by bolon, bala and kamalen n'goni. Note (again) the wonderul dancing, this time by a male and a female dancer (and the rather comical attempt to copy this dance by an older man who looks a bit like Sidiki Diabaté).
Coincidentally, this track is also on the cassette. It is a version of a song by donso n'goni legend Toumani Koné in praise of one of the earliest (known or remembered) donso n'goni artist Ngonifo Bourama.
*Can someone remind me where I read this?
PS: The track order on the cassette sleeve is incorrect.
Going Way, Way Back to the 50s on February 27
7 hours ago