Les Amazones d'Afrique
About Les Amazones d'Afrique
Les Amazones d'Afrique is an all-female supergroup comprised of West African activist musicians who, in addition to making internationally celebrated music, campaign for gender equality. Their lineup includes Malian griot Kandia Kouyaté, Rokia Koné, "The Rose of Bamako"; Mariam Doumbia of Afro-pop outfit Amadou & Mariam; Mamani Keita of Electro-Mandingo; Inna Modja, Beninese activist and 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. As evidenced by their debut album, 2017's République Amazone, their multi-generational musical project melds modern and traditional West African sounds in an ongoing musical struggle against female disenfranchisement.
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. Their style 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. After a world tour, the three principals -- Sangare, Doumbia, and Keïta -- began writing new material together and separately. The songs were harder hitting than before addressing misogyny and violence, sexual identity, forced marriage, and the practice of female genital mutilation. Their follow-up outing, 2020's Amazones Power (also on Real World) album offered richly melodic songs in pan-African traditional and modern styles arranged for collaborative harmonies. These were interwoven with gritty, contemporary pop, and the Congotronix-style production of Doctor L (Farrell), who also mixed and mastered the record in Dakar and Paris. ~ Thom Jurek