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Editorial Reviews

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Ever since her epoch-making debut album, Moussoulou , was released, Oumou Sangare has been one of Mali's most honored singer-songwriters, both at home and abroad. She was born in Wassoulou, a southern province where over 90 percent of the musicians are women. Her family is not of the Jeli (hereditary musician) caste, so she is not bound to glorify the past or praise wealthy patrons. Instead, she sings of controversies that concern modern African women, such as love matches versus the evils of polygamy. On "i"Ko Sira Sangare's smoldering vocals transform reality into incantation, anchored by a subtly devastating rhythmic attack. Rustic acoustic harps, itchy fiddles, searing guitars, and rasping percussion ground her pentatonic-based blues amid precariously balanced time signatures. According to Sangare, ancient traditions and modern possibilities are equally important, but the freedom to choose between them, or not, is what really matters. Her own decision is clearly audible here. --Christina Roden

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