Oumou Sangaré is considered an ambassador of Wassoulou; her music has been inspired by the music and traditional dances of the region. She writes and composes her songs, which often include social criticism, especially concerning women’s low status in society.
Since 1990 she has performed at some of the most important venues in the world, such as the Melbourne Opera, Roskilde Festival, Gnaoua World Music Festival, WOMAD, Oslo World Music Festival and the Opéra de la Monnaie.
Many of Sangaré’s songs concern love and marriage, especially freedom of choice in marriage. Her 1989 album Moussoulou was an unprecedented West African hit. In 1995, she toured with Baaba Maal, Femi Kuti and Boukman Eksperyans. Other albums include Ko Sira (1993), Worotan (1996), and a 2-CD compilation Oumou (2004), all released on World Circuit Records. Sangaré supports the cause of women throughout the world. She was named an ambassador of the FAO in 2003 and won the UNESCO Prize in 2001 and was made a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters of France in 1998.
Sangaré is featured prominently in Throw Down Your Heart, a 2008 documentary about world-renowned American banjo player Béla Fleck, and his exploration of the relatively unknown relationship between his instrument and the musical traditions in Africa.
Sangaré contributed vocals to “Imagine” for the 2010 Herbie Hancock album The Imagine Project, along with Seal, P!nk, India.Arie, Jeff Beck, Konono Nº1 and others.
She was also named among the Inaugural List of 100 Most Influential African Women in 2019 by Avance Media.
Photo Credit: Discogs