Siramori Diabate
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Siramori Diabaté
Griot music from Mali #3
Pan Records

Siramori Diabaté was Mali's most celebrated female griot (griotte). Born in Kela in the early 1930s, a town famous for the outstanding quality of its griots, Siramori's reputation was unmatched. Only Banzoumana Sissòko, the revered "old lion," and composer of Mali's national anthem, rivalled her fame. To our great misfortune, neither musician was extensively recorded. Siramori Diabaté's recordings for Radio Mali were recently released on cassette in Mali (Syllart SYL 83106) and are augmented only by the field recordings of visiting scholars. Jan Jansen, an ethnomusicologist, recorded Siramori in her house in 1989, just a few months before she died. His seven tracks constitute the bulk of this CD, though two songs from a 1974 field recording by John W. Johnson are also included. The instrumentation throughout is confined to a single acoustic guitar, with Siramori's unmistakable low-pitched voice leading the performances. It was her abilities as a singer that brought her initial fame whilst she was still in her teens, and it was the song "Sara," which describes a woman who wishes to choose her own husband, that brought her celebrity status. This CD includes a performance of "Sara," plus a rare rendition of "Soundiata." Very few recordings of this epic song (which praises the founder of the empire of Mali, Soundiata Keita) have been released which feature a griotte. Siramori's mastery of the epic narrative tradition is clearly apparent here and in other songs such as "Tiramagan," a praise song to Tiramagan Traoré, one of Soundiata's generals, and "Gwèdè," a praise song to hunters. The CD contains extensive translations of these songs, plus rare photographs and informative liner notes. Proceeds from the CD go to Siramori Diabaté's family. - Graeme Counsel

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