Music

You Need to Hear This Live Show From Les Amazones D'Afrique

A concert dedicated to all women across the world suffering from violence.

Last year we premiered the "Dombolo" music video by Les Amazones D'Afrique—the first-ever all-female West African supergroup—and wrote about their stunning debut effort, République Amazone. The record's fourteen tracks featured twelve incredibly talented musicians and displayed an ambitious depth of substance and style.

Although sung primarily in Bambara, its politicized message of female empowerment resonates in a profound way. Since the album's critically acclaimed release on Real World Records, the music has made its way to elite global spaces like The Philharmonie de Paris and Barack Obama's iPhone.


Les Amazones D'Afrique performed at Le Guess Who Festival in Utrecht, Netherlands last November, and now we're excited to premiere a full recording of the set, provided by Le Guess Who, courtesy of Marc Broer. The nine-person band assembled for the Netherlands gig did not include some of Les Amazones' more legendary members like Angelique Kidjo and Mariam Doumbia, but their set still replicated the dynamic female energy of the group's recorded debut.

The eight-track set contains extended renditions of album highlights "Nebao," "Dansa Soyari," and "Doona" alongside beautiful unreleased tracks "Kanakasi" and "Ani Sogoma" and a stunning cover of the 400 year-old Sudanese folk song "Garaba Mama." This is an ecstatic, high-octane live album that opts for a more analogue, blues rock sound over the electronic beats and high fidelity studio production of République Amazone.

The Guess Who Festival set included Mamani Keita, Rokia Koné, and Kandia Kouyate on lead vocals, with Pamela Badjogo and Aminata Dante on backing vocals. The band also featured Llorens Barcelo on keys, Liam Farell on bass and guitar, Mamadou Diakite on guitar and Joseph Palmer on drums.

Before opening the set, Rokia took a moment to dedicate the performance to all the women of the world. Her presence onstage is magnetic and inspiring; she speaks to the audience throughout, giving them life and love with encouraging words and enthralling vocals. When Rokia's solo verse finally arrives during set opener "Desert Storm," her voice soars unmatched and cascades down with dazzling riffs of brilliant, bluesy soul.

The set's most exhilarating track comes later, though, as a group vocal effort during the sauntering blues-funk jubilee of "Nebao." It's got an irresistible hook, accentuated by frenetic desert rock riffs, and a joyous call-and-response chorus between the vocalists. Between the rough-edged blues arrangements and the powerful, expertly recorded vocals of our leading ladies, "Nabao" captures a special kind of magic not yet summoned by Les Amazones D'Afrique's studio material.

Interview

Malian Rapper Ami Yerewolo Rises Against All Odds

Ami Yerewolo reflects on her hard-won rap career, new album AY and why she insists on creating support spaces for young female rappers in Mali and beyond.

"No one is a prophet in his or her own land!" This is an accurate way to describe Ami Yerewolo's career to a tee. The Malian rapper's music has not always been popular in her home country, where female rappers are generally frowned upon. Instead, it has taken off abroad. Yerewolo's upbeat sound mixes traditional Malian elements with fast drums, contemporary beats and significant lyrics that compel listeners to reflect on life — all of which makes her songs carry a universal appeal. Her new album, AY (titled after the rapper's initials) has just been released by the label Othentiq.

Yerewolo shares her frank thoughts below...

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Vinegar Pap Smear Saving Women’s Lives In Malawi

This simple diagnostic test is giving hope to thousands of women in Malawi.