July 08, 2009


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.


Anonymous said...

The source of first cassette in 1989 may be Frank Bessem's (1987),that this time has forgotten too the two albums in her discography.

-Sali Sidibé From Timbuktu to Gao.
-Sali Sidibé Wassoulou Foli.

Anonymous said...

This note is in the sleeve of a LP sell in a record shop in the net.

SALI SIDIBE - Formidable ! - Sali Sidibe 82

Ultra rare kamalein n'goni music from Mali recorded by the legendary singer w/ instrumentists Madou Traore & Molobali Bakayoko.

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much, Sali is truly formidable here, but lack Demisen kulu track, which has been replaced by Yiri Yiri of Nahawa.

This seems to confirm the "sorcier" reputation of Sali Sidibe¡

Recycler said...

Thank you very much for all your beautiful posts !!!

to see cover and tracklist of the Polydisc LP BH 0001 follow this link:


Thanks again!

Recycler said...

Sorry the cover does not match the LP

Anonymous said...

Thanks Stefan for this cassette & the information you provide. Looking forward to future posts on Sali. I have a cassette of hers bought in Sterns in London I think in the late 80s on the Syllart label made in France which I was hoping you or other listeners might be able to shed some light on. I have emailed you a scan of the cover. When I bought it I thought it was a new release from a new artist but in light of what you write perhaps it is a compilation for the French market of some of her earlier career


Goininda said...

Maybe you've explained this before , or it is explained elsewhere. [rookie question alert !] Why is there such a repetition of surnames with Malian/Senegalese and Guinean Musicians ? Kandia , Kouyate , Keita, Sidibe , Diabate just from the top of my dome.

Thanks for this service .

Kyra Gaunt, Ph.D. said...

Are Sali and Coumba Sidibé related and how? I am writing about latter in a Harlem nightclub she performed in before she passed. How does this kamalein n'goni music differ from Coumba Sidibé recordings in your opinion?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Another Sali Sidibe Super Formidable cassette!


Anonymous said...

I think I know why:

"When I bought this cassette, I was told that Alou Fané was accompanying her on kamalen n'goni, but Alou himself later denied this. "

Look at:
Sali Sidibe: L'enfant chéri de Wassolon. Volume 1. Disco club de la Bagoué. F.T. 002. 1980

Its back says:

Cithare: Alou Fané
Guitare: Madou Traoré

BTW: a wonderfull album!

WrldServ said...

@Anonymous: Aha! I thought at the time there might by other issues involved... Is there any chance you could send me a copy of the sleeve (and possibly even the music) of this lp?
I'ld be very grateful....

Anonymous said...

Returning to Madou Traoré, Sali also named Madou several times in this cassette,
is a very peculiar style of guitar, is the kamalengoni style, I think it could be Madou Bah Traoré, Djeneba Diakité's husband.

Unknown said...

Je veux