Wassoulou Vocalists


—Though these instruments are an important aspect of Wassoulou music, they only provide accompaniment to the real subject of the music, which are strong vocalists. Most Wassoulou vocalists are women.

—Some Wassoulou vocalists have a more relaxed and reserved singing style. However, I find the freer, more soulful vocal styles of certain Wassoulou vocalists to be the greatest attraction of this musical genre. An example of this is the song title, “Kouloumba” by Kagbe Sidibe.

—Then, here is another vocalist, Mamou Sidibé, who, in this song seems to lie somewhere in the middle between a reserved style and a freer, more soulful style.

Here is a beautiful example of a male Wassoulou vocalist, Sibiri Samake. The instrumental accompaniment is very light and simple. During the majority of the piece, the intention of the vocalist is fairly reserved; then, near the end of the song, the tempo speeds up significantly, and the vocalist becomes much freer and compelling. This song also uses a call and response technique between the main vocalist and a secondary vocalist or a group of secondary vocalists. This call and response is an important aspect of most Wassoulou music. Here is another call and response example. And, another example of call and response, along with some African dance can be viewed here. In this example, unlike the Sibiri Samake example above, the call and response is only used at certain times during the song.

Continue with the first vocalist that I will highlight: Oumou Sangare

Author: David Velardo

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