Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 30th 2017 Contents life B35
Sunday, July 30, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Growing up with her grandmother in
the Saharan country---Mali, Awa Sang-
ho has used her voice in song to repre-
sent the voiceless. Instead of projecting
strife plagued by poverty and economic
challenges, Sangho uses her songs to
encourage upliftment and strength de-
spite the odds.
"My politics is always music," Sangho
said, speaking from California.
"Mali is a beautiful country. Even with
all the politics, we as artistes have to do our
part to remind people that they have the
last word, that people have the power. It's
getting better though. People are marching
when they are not happy."
Perhaps Sangho's strength comes from
her ancestry as she is the descendant of two
empires---the Songhai of Dire and Mande.
The Songhai Empire was once part of three
empires that ruled the trans-Saharan trade
in gold, salt and commodities in West Afri-
ca, while the Mande people were known as
the 'language people' as they spoke various
Her songs project pride and honour but
she hopes the Mali women understand that
her songs should also encourage them to be
strong within. "Back there, it is not easy
but women are very brave. Some give up,
some don't. I'm not giving up," she said.
"We have to fight up for women's rights and
Sangho comes to Trinidad as the headline
act for the Pan African Concert hosted by
the Emancipation Support Committee on
July 31 at the Queen's Park Savannah. The
concert has been a staple of the Emancipa-
tion observances, with each year present-
ing some of the best acts from the African
This year, the concert celebrates the ESC's
25th anniversary. Sangho is supported by a
local cast of strong women talent---Marvel-
lous Marva, Tigress, Kareen Asche, Makeda
Darius and Alana Sinnette. Stephen Mar-
celle, calypsonian and former Young King,
is the lone male in the show.
But Sangho's visit here would not be her
first. She came to Trinidad to perform three
years ago. Back then, she promised to stay
longer to enjoy Trinidad's warmth and food.
"When I come to Trinidad, I feel like home.
Somehow, we are related," she said.
While Mali may be a across the water,
there is a connection with
Trinidad found through our common held
traditional beliefs such as respect for elders
or simply our style of cooking.
The audience can expect to be not only
wooed by Sangho's golden voice but with
her dance, as she will be joined by our
own local Wasafoli dance troupe. She met
them briefly during her last visit and said
the connection was more in the message.
"The song and dance have meanings. I have
found a similarity with the Wasafoli dancers
and I enjoyed our connection on stage. I am
looking forward to reuniting with them next
week," she said.
From an early age, Sangho sang children
and traditional songs, blues and popu-
lar songs played on the radio. During her
school years, she auditioned at the Ensem-
ble Koteba of Abidjan, a renowned musical
production company on the Ivory Coast.
There she began an apprenticeship in acting
Sangho eventually travelled the world
with the legendary group Ensemble Koteba,
and the women-led band Les Go de Koteba
which she co-founded in 1993. She per-
formed with the group in Europe, Bordeaux,
Paris, Avignon, the US and as well as Niger
and Togo in Africa.
In 2011, Sangho moved to New York to
explore her talents which propelled her to
immediate success. Soon after her reloca-
tion, her first solo recording titled Alataye
Tougnaye, meaning The Truth Belongs to
God (Motema), was unveiled.
"In the US, I am touring, I am working,
I am making a contribution to the world
through music and dance. But I go back
and forth to Mali, to get more inspiration
and blessings," she said.
Since she has been singing for the past
30 years Sangho has become renowned as a
multitalented artiste. Listeners would iden-
tify her style as jazzy, or rhythm and blues or
trademark African-centric. Instruments like
ngoni, kora, balafon, dun-dun and n'djar-
ka are also essential in reflecting the West
African identity in her music.
Malian vocalist Awa
Sangho performing at
Elebash Hall in Manhattan.
...for Pan African concert
Although she loves her country very much, she is
not blind to its many challenges. Sangho uses her
music as positive notes above the sadness and distress,
as she shares her personal journey of discovery, faith
and appreciation to the world. (See Page B39)
Awa Sangho comes to Trinidad
The free concert
takes place at
Savannah on the day
July 31, and
promises to bring an
moment to the
on Facebook for
events and lectures
that seek to
enlighten the African
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