Music from Mali, from near the Khyber Pass, and from the American West

By Elizabeth Doyle

Oumou Sangare, performing at a concert in Portugal, 2007

Oumou Sangare – There’s a region in Mali called Wassoulou which has a really famous musical tradition. Its music stems from traditional hunting songs, and is usually sung by women, often focusing today on issues specifically facing women. One of its most famous singers currently is Oumou Sangare. She comes from a long line of musicians. And she’s not only a terrific Wassoulou performer with loads of personality, but true to her musical genre, she’s a huge advocate for women’s rights. She’s extremely vocal against child marriages and against polygamy. And she herself is a savvy business owner (hotel and automobile business) who tries to set an example to other ladies that financial independence is a form of freedom. A great singer and an impressively stubborn soul! Here she is:

Near the Khyber Pass

Aiman Udas – This is a lovely Pakistani singer, who was, very tragically killed by her family a couple of years ago. Allegedly, it was done by her brothers, as an “honor killing” because they thought she was a disgrace (both for being a woman who sang in public and for being divorced). They left both of her children orphaned, without a mom. Not much honor in that! So I say we spread videos of her singing in public all over the world. She gave her life to her art, and she deserves to be heard.  Click here.


Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

Connie Dover – She has one of my favorite voices. Truly an American treasure, this Arkansas-born lady composes and performs music that draws out the richness of American soil. She sings from a place of spirit and a sense of the heavens, while grounding every note in the earth. Some of her songs echo slightly of Scotland’s or Ireland’s reverberations on the United States, while others hint at ancient whispers of Christianity that have crossed the ocean, and some are even ticklish with thoughts of love, but many of her songs simply seek the grasp the sheer expansiveness of the American experience, and particularly, the massive American West. Here she is, singing at a Cowboy Poetry expedition.  Click here.


Top photo: Bunks  / Oumou Sangaré in Sines Portugal 2007 / Wikimedia Commons / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Second photo: James Mollison /  Wikimedia Commons / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. / Taken at the Khyber Pass, near Peshawar, Pakistan, where Aiman Udas lived

Third photo:  Sharon St Joan / Canyon de Chelly / Arizona