REVIEWS and AWARDS
Winners of the 2006 Billboard Songwriting Contest - World Category
Winners of the 2008 and 2006 Independent Music Awards for Best Song, World Music
Grand Prize Winners of the 2008 John Lennon Song Writing Competition
WINNERS OF THE 2008 WEST COAST SONGWRITERS CONTEST BEST WORLD SONG
Winners of the 2008, 100% Music Songwriting Contest, Best Song
Winners of Global Rhythm Magazine Song Contest (June 2006 Edition)
Mamadou Sidibe played a groundbreaking role in transforming Malian popular music. He was one of the first to break with tradition by adopting the now-widely used kamale n'goni, a lute-harp-like instrument that exudes a deep, soulful sound. The kamale n'goni was formed by adding a couple of strings to the traditional hunter's lute, the dozon n'goni, to expand the instrument's range and to give it a more varied and open sound. Mamadou also inspried Malian musicians to sing about everyday life, instead of traditional spiritual and hunters' songs.
Mamadou now lives in California with his wife, Vanessa, a talented and accomplished musician in her own right. Together, they produce music that is at once profound and bluesy, but also remarkably soothing and uplifting. Their album Nacama is a pure delight, offering listeners a fresh and vibrant take on West African traditions. In 2006, the pair were honored with awards at the Independent Music Awards and the Billboard World Music Songwriting Contest.
I saw them live last night in Berkeley and it was a fantastic performance -- hours of music that nourished my soul and got me out of my chair and onto the dancefloor. The best part was watching Mamadou on his knees jam away on one of his beloved instruments, which was wrapped in the colors of the Malian flag. Not a scene I will soon forget.
The African flavored world music duo, Mamadou and Vanessa release an interesting collection, Nacama (which means “destiny”). Mamadou plays the six-string dosngoni (which is a hunter’s harp) and the pair blend voices in the festive “Fula.” Vanessa’s soothing alto sings a friendly melody on “A Long Time Ago.” The album is a unique cultural journey and offers a sonic odyssey to match.
Pop Culture Press Around the World- 2005 In review (Part 3)
The burgeoning influence of Malian music will certainly get a lift in the US from the presence of Mamadou Sidibe who has left his native country and settled in the San Francisco Bay Area with his American wife, Vanessa. The two combine forces as Mamadou and Vanessa on Nacama. The record showcases Mamdou's stunning musicianship, especially on the kamalngoni, while the two share vocals, and hopefully this record will earn the pair some deserved recognition.
A local couple (now in Berkeley). He’s originally from Mali and sings & plays the kamalngoni...she’s an Afro-Cuban vocalist with a silky-smooth voice and they're joined by friends on guitar, percussion & other instruments. There’s a nice, bluesy thread running throughout and the playing & singing is solid and enjoyable. Overall warm, relaxed, and just plain good. All songs are original by the artists. Lyrics in English and Bambara.
1. Relaxed w/lazy vocal duet. Sort of just fades out at end.
2. A sweet, low-key instrumental w/a light, hopeful feeling..
*3. Nice vocals in a bittersweet love song w/good use of strings.
*4. Bright & happy sway w/a catchy beat.
*5. Light, midtempo w/a lazy Afro-blues sound.
6. Nicely melodic blend of strings/vox. Really pretty & soothing.
7. Bouncy, lightly driving blend of perc/strings/vox..
*8. Sweet balafon accents in this happy, sweet little dance.
9. A lazy love song w/good vocals & nice work from the band.
10. Jazz-ish vocals against spare use of percussion. Very peaceful.
New CDs from independent artists and labels that deserve a listen. Terry O'Laughlin, Diaspora.
Nacama by Mamdou and Vanessa - An independently produced gem of African based original music played primarily on the kamalngoni by Mamadou. The music is delightful, much better than many I've heard in a similar style from major labels. On Sidibe Records.
Available at CD Baby, where you can sample all the songs. My favorites are Follow You and N'Dia.
D.C. DONOVAN, EDITOR
An Official Publication of
AFRICA AND MID-EAST ISSUEMay/June 2005
Nacama by Mamadou & Vanessa Sidibe
Mamadou Sidibe is a musician/singer/songwriter from Wassalou Mali, married to an Afro-Cuban salsa musician/singer from the USA: they now make their home in Berkeley, California. One of the things that makes NACAMA interesting is the way the two singers blend or alternate Bambara (Mamadou's native language) with English. Mamadou plays the Kameln'goni (an eight-string version of the n'goni, which he invented) to accompany the vocals. The overall sound on NACAMA still sounds traditional to most Western ears, as it's primarily acoustic and uses traditional Malian instruments.
For the most part the songs are low-key, but some are danceable; just not pounding beats, but more subtle. At times the n'goni sounds like a cross between a banjo and a guitar (yes, there used to be an instrument made in the USA known as a banjo guitar, but Mamadou's n'Goni only sounds like that once in a while). The use of repetitive phrases, typical of much African music, hits home even more when sung in English. Of course, much of the Afro-American music from the US's Southern states used to sound like this: the only contemporary singer / songwriter who uses this technique today (outside of Africa) seems to be Van Morrison. If you're not in the mood this can be off-putting; but if you're in the groove, the effect is very powerful. Vanessa has a very pleasing, seductive voice which helps listener appreciation even more; as does the balafon (marimba). No drum kit or synth drums; just a single djembe (West African hand drum), which sounds perfect for the cuts on NACAMA. A powerful introduction to a powerful duo!