12 Songs, 55 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The all-female group Les Amazones d’Afrique lines up like a dream team of contemporary African music, with members including Angélique Kidjo, Mariam Doumbia (of Amadou & Mariam), and the Malian kora player Kandia Kouyaté. Helmed by producer Liam Farrell, their debut runs the gamut from tight, propulsive rumba (“Domblo”) to North African-style psychedelia (“Mansa Soyari”), and the hip-hop inflections of “I Play the Kora,” named for a West African harp that has for generations been played solely by men—that is, until women like this braved doing it too.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The all-female group Les Amazones d’Afrique lines up like a dream team of contemporary African music, with members including Angélique Kidjo, Mariam Doumbia (of Amadou & Mariam), and the Malian kora player Kandia Kouyaté. Helmed by producer Liam Farrell, their debut runs the gamut from tight, propulsive rumba (“Domblo”) to North African-style psychedelia (“Mansa Soyari”), and the hip-hop inflections of “I Play the Kora,” named for a West African harp that has for generations been played solely by men—that is, until women like this braved doing it too.

TITLE TIME

About Les Amazones d'Afrique

Les Amazones d'Afrique are an all-female collective of West African musicians whose motive, besides making music, is to campaign for gender equality. Given their lineup, they have been dubbed accurately by the international media as a supergroup. The group's lineup includes Kandia Kouyaté, one of the era's greatest Malay griots; Rokia Koné, "The Rose of Bamako"; Mariam Doumbia, half of Afro-pop outfit Amadou & Mariam; Mamani Keita of Electro-Mandingo; Inna Modja, activist in the fight against excision; Beninese activist and globally renowned pop singer Angélique Kidjo; UNICEF ambassador and Nigerian singer Nneka; Mariam Koné, chorister of Cheick Tidiane Seck; and Mouneïssa Tandina, who has accompanied the Rail Band, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangaré, and dozens more. This project intersects generations and sounds in its musical struggle against female disenfranchisement. "We dare believe that music can contribute to the trigger of behaviour change," a spokesperson for the group has said.

Les Amazones d'Afrique performed their first concert at Fiesta des Suds in Marseilles in October 2015. The response to their set resulted in them being signed to Real World Records. Their first single and video, "I Play the Kora," was issued in February of 2017. The music shatters the generic term "world music." Its message is a metaphor. Playing the kora -- a harp-like instrument native to West Africa -- was denied to women for centuries, and the empowerment in the lyric is a call to unity and a call to arms.

The group's debut album, Republique Amazone, produced by Liam Farrell, aka Doctor L (composer and producer of Mbongwana Star, Tony Allen, Assassin, and more), was issued in April 2017; it claimed the top spot on the AfroBase Radio Chart. Followed by second single "Dame et Ses Valises," the album entered the World Albums chart at number six in early 2018. ~ Thom Jurek

GENRE
World
FORMED
2015

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