Photo: Holly Whittaker

Oumou Sangaré unveils sweeping Wassoulou floor-filler “Sarama”, announces new album

Next to being a Grammy-winning, global pop star, Mali’s Oumou Sangaré has achieved as much of her renown through her activism and philanthropy. For upcoming album Timbuktu, out April 29 on her own Oumsang imprint, she wrote a fair chunk of the new material isolated in the United States, and to be more specific, in the city of Baltimore.

“Since 1990, I’ve never had a chance to cut myself off from the world and devote myself exclusively to music,” she says. “If you look at it that way, the lockdown was an opportunity for me, because it allowed me to keep my focus on the work of composition. I think you feel it in music, but also in the lyrics which are the fruit of all those moments when I was able to withdraw into myself and meditate.”

This new back-to-basics introspection reconciles wondrously with Oumou Sangaré’s ability to lock into a groove at will. Open-hearted and compassionate, “Sarama” begins fairly grounded into a refined Wassoulou cadence, building up towards a more technicolor disco romp. The song addresses the evils Sangaré still has to face after achieving her hard-fought fame, with emotions such as jealousy, slander, and betrayals perpetually afoot. 

According to the artist, Timbuktu can be almost be considered a love letter to music itself, as it has always manifested as a redemptive force from within. “Without it, I’m nothing, and nothing can take it away from me. I’ve put my life into this record, my whole life–this life in which I’ve known hunger, the humiliation of poverty and fear, and from which today, I draw glory.”

Watch the lyric video for “Sarama” below or find it on streaming platforms.

Timbuktu comes out on April 29 – pre-order/save it here. Follow Oumou Sangaré on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.