Coumba Sidibé (1959-2009)

Coumba Sidibé is one of the pioneering forces of that new generation of female singers from the Wassoulou region in the South of Mali, that emerged at the end of the 1980s, along with Oumou Sangaré, Kagbe Sidibé, Sali Sidibé and others. Different from the until then dominant malinké praise singers, these young artists addressed contemporary issues in their lyrics, such as social problems. Although the singers are mainly Peul, they are singing in the wassoulou dialect of the bambara language.
The pentatonic wassoulou music itself is very distinct from malinke music and is reminiscent of the rhythms of Malian hunter music played with the Dozon N'Goni (hunter's lute), but using instead the smaller Kamelen N'Goni (6-string youth lute). Other instruments used are the traditional one-string violon, the soukou, the M'Bolon, djembé and also the electric guitar. The rhythms are repetitive and hypnotising, but there is room for improvisation on the string instruments.

Coumba sung from the age of seven, and started her professional career in the Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali in the 1970s. Her voice is rougher and jazzier than that of Oumou Sangaré, or Sali Sidibé. Although well-known in Mali, she never quite made it to international fame. Her recordings aren't that well distributed internationally, but a few songs can be found on the two Wassoulou Sound samplers released by Stern's Music.

Sadly, Coumba has passed away in New York, where she lived since the late 1990s, on the 10th of May, 2009.

Coumba Sidibé
 Coumba Sidibé 

Born: 1959 (1950 according to other sources), in the village of Koninko
Died: 10 May 2009, in Brooklyn, New York
Style: wassoulou music

Title Year Label Remarks
Mansa 2001 Mali K7 S.A. CD
Djandjoba 2000 Camara Productions CD CK7 268
Sanghan 1995 Flash FDB 300017 Also Camara K7 101 (cassette) and Shanachie SHA 65011 (CD)
Mali Stars (Wary) 1991 Syllart 38111-2 Collection Mali Stars (CD)
Wary 199? Shakara SHA 09032 Cassette
Dounouyan 199? Shakara SHA 02901 Cassette
Gnogonté 1987? Syllart SYL 8352 Cassette

Sources [external link]
Page added December 2001