The first all-female supergroup of West Africa, the collective Les Amazones d’Afrique, is an event for world music. Whether they are undisputed stars or well-kept secrets, the musicians involved in this project are all among the most acclaimed voices in West African music: Kandia Kouyaté, Mamani Keita, Rokia Koné, Angélique Kidjo, Mariam Doumbia, Mariam Koné, Mouneïssa Tandina and Pamela Badjogo. The collective elegantly mixes generations and energies and perpetuates the Mandingo tradition by giving it the power of African megacities.
An «All-Star» you might think. Yes, but not only that. Inspired by the formidable and mysterious warriors of Dahomey, the greatest Malian singers and musicians of the moment come together to fight against violence towards women. They fight for freedom, being female, and being a musician, in Africa and elsewhere. The voices of these divas can break the chains and take over your heart.
Les Amazones d’Afrique are an all-female collective of west African musicians, campaigning for gender equality. They have been described as a supergroup, and the characterisation seems apt.
The record to be released on March 10th features: Kandia Kouyaté, Mamani Keita, Mariam Doumbia, Mariam Koné, Massan Coulibaly, Mouneissa Tandina, Pamela Badjogo and Rokia Koné hold a strong pedigree, and it’s a rare opportunity to witness such a collaboration; the real sound of contemporary Africa. The album showcases the sparkling range and versatility of its songstresses. Running on funk and blues with dabs of dub; ancient rhythms blending seamlessly with their western appropriated cousins, Les Amazones d'Afrique sound like an aural actuation of the new melting pot cities of the African continent. Tracks are sung intermittently in English, French and Mandingo. At times, it’s almost as if we are swirling about in several decades simultaneously: filthy backwards or wah wah guitars, distorted thumb piano, dreamy, jazzy chords and soulful singing over a pneumatic beat give way to the kind of Afrobeat best heard as the dawn rises in a muddy field in Europe during festival season. Liam Farrell (Doctor L), who has worked with Afro-pop king Tony Allen and Mbongwana Star, had a firm hand in leading the edgy, industrial feel to the production.
Between these singers, they have years of charitable work supporting other women, alongside personal struggles of illness and disability that have been overcome. Mariam Doumbia - one half of the legendary duo ‘Amadou and Mariam’ - has managed to sidestep the prejudices associated with blindness through her music. Although only a grainy snapshot of some of their singular achievements, this does give insight into why the group has been so successful as a collective, and why they have decided to curate this album: Republique Amazone.