September 26, 2008

Coumba Saba

Like many of the great female singers in Mali Coumba Sidibé, nicknamed Coumba Saba, rose to fame when she joined the Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali in the early 1970s. She was, and still is, big in Mali. Coming from the Wassoulou region of Mali she grew up amidst many musical styles, which she blended together when she moved to the capital Bamako. As such she was one of the founders of the style which is sometimes known as the Wassoulou style.
Because the kamelan n'goni* plays a dominant role in this music it is often referred to in Mali as kamelan n'goni music.

Coumba Sidibé had a big hit in the 1980s with her cassette released by Ibrahima Sylla (a cassette which features - by the way - Zoumana and Dramane Diarra who I mentioned in my earlier post about Daouda Sangaré). In the 1990s she moved to the States where, if I am not mistaken, she is still living today. After her move she has, unfortunately, never risen to the level which she attained living in Mali, and certainly not to the superb level of singing which she demonstrates in this clip from Malian tv. I recorded this onto videotape in the late 1980s, but the clip itself is older.

* this instrument can be seen and heard in this clip


Kyra Gaunt, Ph.D. said...

Where are you? I'd love to speak to you about Coumba. You seem to know alot about her background and though we shared a stage a few nights together in Harlem, I missed the opportunity to interview her. She once asked me if I would teach her to sing like Ella Fitzgerald and I thought why. She was an amazing vocalist in her own right. She is missed greatly here in NYC. Let me know how I might communicate with you directly

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