Malian singer Oumou Sangaré draws on the traditional hunting songs of the historic region of Wassoulou at the Auditori's World Music Festival
The majority of Western musicians deserve to be pirated; it’s hard to give a toss about their mimicry and money-making, their self-indulgent ballads of personal pain. Meanwhile, West African musicians have used music as an articulate force for social and political change, to take news items, gossip and satire to the people.
Three of the five groups performing in the Auditori’s World Music Festival are from Mali. They play the kora and ngoni, traditionally made out of a voluptuous vine fruit called the calabash. All the musicians are world-renowned, of course, or they could never get visas; two achieved this status thanks to last year’s BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music, a contest that has since been axed.
That’s a shame, because groups such as Bassekou Kouyaté & Ngoni Ba are an inspiration to all musicians. They won best album of the year at the Radio 3 Awards for their debut Segu Blue, and have just released I Speak Fula. Vocals and sounds intertwine to unwind Mali’s pre-colonial past: it’s spellbinding, even if you don’t speak Fula.
Cuban-born Mayra Andrade won the Radio 3 newcomer award. Brought up in Senegal, Angola, Germany and Cabo Verde, the 24-year-old delivers the languishing melancholia of bossa nova in a husky, conversational style.
The biggest star is Toumani Diabaté. The kora player has played with Western stars of flamenco, jazz and pop, such as Ketama and Björk. He incorporates all these influences into his music, which, while accomplished, might leave you longing for a simpler sound.
For those that like their Africa light, Barcelona-based Moya Kalongo led by Mozambican singer Simonal Bie, play jazzy afrobeat.
But if you really want to be blown away, experience the breathtaking voice of Oumou Sangaré. The Malian draws on the traditional hunting songs of the historic region of Wassoulou to campaign for the emancipation of African women and for freedom of choice in marriage, making Lily Allen sound like a whining cat.
14º Festival de Músicas del Mundo
October 2nd to 16th, 2009