Nahawa Doumbia

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KIT Water Music presents in cooperation with WDR Cosmo

Nahawa Doumbia

Eintritt 10,- €

(Awesome Tapes From Africa, Bamako)

To shorten the waiting time for the Malian diva's long-expected album of brand-new music, Awesome Tapes From Africa dropped another masterpiece of West-African music in September 2019 by releasing Nahawa Doumbia's debut album “La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol 1", which originally came out in 1981.

Sparsely orchestrated with acoustic guitar and vocals, it is full of youthful power and imagination, and deeply rooted in the Wassoulou tradition.

Nahawa will play a few, hand-picked acoustic trio shows in January and February 2020 to celebrate this.

The line up is featuring the release's original guitarist N'Gou Bagayoko and Drissa Sidibe, one of Mali's leading n'goni players.


Release info: Nahawa Doumbia “La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol 1"
Listen to the album:

Awesome Tapes From Africa the label began in late 2011 with a release by Nahawa Doumbia, the third part of a series of her very early recordings. We were lucky for the chance to work with such a major voice, who is already established internationally. Known throughout the land as a Wassoulou singer of remarkable strength and creativity, Doumbia hasn't stopped playing shows in Mali and has returned Europe twice in recent years.

“La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol 1" is the singer at the very start of her recording career, rendered in absolutely shattering minimalism: only acoustic guitar and vocals are needed here to capture the ambition of a young artist ready to be heard. Doumbia had the chance to record this debut album following her triumph in a regional talent competition that included being broadcast worldwide via Radio France International. She went on to record more than a dozen more. We are proud to make this available again outside Mali officially and fully authorized.


Nahawa Doumbia is one of the most popular singers of the Wassoulou region in South Mali. She speaks to the younger generation of West Africa through her lyrics about love, the position of women in society, and the situation of African refugees in France. Her voice soars to Didadi, a dance rhythm from her native area.

Nahawa Doumbia was born in the small town of Mafélé, in the district of Sikasso close to the border of the Ivory Coast. Her grandmother had to raise the newborn because Nahawa’s mother died shortly after giving birth. She grew up in Manankoro, near Bougouni, the most important city in the Wassoulou region. This area is well known for generating some of the best female singers in Mali, including Oumou Sangaré. Even though Nahawa Doumbia’s family was not part of the Jeli tradition (the Manding caste that performs music), Nahawa’s mother predicted before she died that her daughter would be a singer. This is something that her family tried to prevent, even with magical powers, but to no effect.

The young Malian woman was discovered by civil servants from the Ministry of Culture when she was singing with her friends. Despite her father’s opposition, she sang at the Youth Week in Bamako in 1980, a biannual event in which artists from all over the country participated. Nahawa Doumbia won the contest with the song "Tinye De Be Laban". Since then and always accompanied by her husband, guitarist N'Gou Bagayoko, her fame grew in Mali and Europe. She shared the stages with Manu Dibango, Toure Kunda or Miriam Makeba.

In 1989 Nahawa’s first internationally released album "Didadi" came out, produced by Ibrahima Sylla and Boncana Maiga, the creators of modern Manding music.

The turn of the century saw the singer being very active, releasing the widely recognized and praised album "Yaala" as well as collaborating with the popular French DJ and producer Frederic Galliano on a crossover project.

In 2011 blogger and ethnomusicologist Brian Shimkovitz chose Nahawa's early tape "La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol 3" to become the first official release on his new Awesome Tapes From Africa label, receiving rave reviews worldwide. In September 2019, Doumbia's 1981 debut album "La Grande Cantatrice Malienne Vol 1" followed on the same label.

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