Anyone drawn to African and World Music will be taken with Mamadou and Vanessa Sidibe's CD, Nacama ("Destiny.") Nacama captivates with English and Bambara lyrics, fine solos, transcendent duets, and instrumentals synonymous with Mamadou's reverently fresh approach to the music of his West African Heritage.
Twenty-five years ago Mamadou played a groundbreaking role in transforming music of his Wassalou Region in Mali, from its origins in hunters' sacred melodies--played on six string doson'goni (hunter's harps)--to a music of love, politics and daily life. Mamadou was one of the first to expand the instrument's range with two extra strings, creating the popular kameln'goni.
Mamadou, with artists Coumba Sidibe, Oumou Sangare, and Ramatu Diakite, spread the new sounds through recordings and performances in Europe, Africa and the United States.
Now Mamadou effortlessly blends Wassalou melodies with American Blues in this unique collaboration with his wife, Vanessa Sidibe. Vanessa, an accomplished Afro-Cuban and Salsa musician, has performed, recorded, and taught in San Francisco and New York for over fifteen years. Solo and with Mamadou, she brings earthy depth and ethereal sensuality to all her vocals.
With their first joint CD, the Sidibes merge two languages, two cultures and two musical threads. In keeping with Mali's oral culture, the pieces tell stories and impart traditional wisdom. "Fula" a history of the Fulani people, has an irresistible dance rhythm. In "A Long Time Ago," with it's Bambara chorus, fragments of memory recall lost love. In the Blues-influenced, "Follow You," the singers' voices run along side each other, then join and separate. The instrumental, "N'goni Cadie," appropriately translates to "Sweet N'goni." The peaceful "Nemasilon" ("I Am Not Afraid") completes the CD with simple instrumentation and words that reassure, "honesty brings a good life."
All in all, Nacama leads its listeners through a brilliant cultural and musical journey.