The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Listening To The Messages: Oumou Sangaré's Favourite Albums
David McKenna , July 10th, 2019 08:36

Malian musician Oumou Sangaré speaks to David McKenna about her favourite music, being discovered by Ali Farka Touré, and collaborating with Alicia Keys and Tony Allen


Alicia Keys – Songs In A Minor
I love her voice, her mastery of music and the song 'Fallin' in particular. We even duetted together here in France. In fact what happened with Alicia Keys is that I was playing in Central Park in New York, I was in my dressing room after I'd finished playing and I see this beautiful girl coming towards me with these big muscly guys either side of her. She came into to see me, I asked who she was and she said "I'm Alicia Keys. I was in the studio and I had to stop everything and come to see you because I love Oumou Sangaré. When I hear your voice I get goosebumps!" And when I heard that I hugged her. But really I didn't know who she was until then, but from that point I knew there was a singer called Alicia Keys who loved me so I started listening to her music, I listened to 'Fallin' that I liked a lot. 

Then she was touring in Europe and the French called her to appear on a TV channel, France 2. And she said "I accept, if you get Oumou Sangaré to sing with me."  They said "Why Oumou Sangaré, there are thousands of singers here!" And she said that it was me or nothing! I was in Bamako and France and she did everything possible to get me over quickly. We performed a duet and it was incredible. She tried to sing one of my songs 'Djorolen', which was one that she said have her goosebumps – she showed me her arm and it was all covered in little bumps! She tried that but it wasn't working so she said she would sing in English and I could I try something in Bambara. We rehearsed for two minutes and it was incredible. And the whole of Africa loved the duo, the whole of Africa!