African Visions

Dateline: February 4, 2000

Many contemporary African artists are based in France.

African music is as hot as ever. Traditional African cultures meet contemporary, Western influences and the result is an intriguing mosaic of sound and instruments.

In order to take advantage of the latest in recording technology and to work with the top producers, many African artists are hot-footing it to France. This is no surprise, since many Africans, especially from Western and Northern Africa, speak French as their primary language, or speak an African dialect that uses variations on French.

Tour&ecute; Touré is a duo with a royal musical heritage. Picking up where their late fathers and uncles left off with Touré Kunda, one of the first African bands to break through in America, the duo use delicate acoustic rhythms and vocal harmonies. Laddé is the duo's latest album (Tinder Records). Although the title track is about leaving Africa, is is unlikely they will ever leave their roots behind.

Amadou et Mariam are also known as the "blind couple of Mali." They are based in Bamako and write and perform in Ivory Coast French. sou ni tilé (Tinder) is reflective of the couple's story-telling style.

An African artist who sings in an African French dialect is Sally Nyolo. She sings her vibrato style in a pygmy dialect hailing from Cameroon and currently lives in Paris. Multiculti is her current album but her solo debut Tribu should not be missed (both albums on Tinder).

Previous Features