Oumou Sangaré, the celebrated Malian singer, is set to release her first album of original music in over 8 years.
Mogoya (which roughly translates to ‘People Today’) will continue in the Grammy Award-winning artist’s deeply-rooted traditional Malian sound, but with an ear towards the future, as traditional instruments like the n’goni and calabash are blended with synthesizers and electric guitars.
“This album is the result of many years of work. I’ve collaborated with many people and I’ve been able to observe people’s mentality,” Oumou mentions. “This time around I wanted to go for more of a modern sound, to satisfy young people in Mali, but being careful, all the while, to respect my culture and my tradition.”
For the album’s lead single, “Yere Faga,” Oumou connects with afrobeat royalty and drumming legend Tony Allen for a message of strength in the face of suicide and depression.
In the song, Oumou, who has dealt with malicious rumors about herself throughout her career and witnessed first hand their effect on her mental state, sings:
“Don’t kill yourself because of suffering. Life on this earth is not easy and people will always talk ill of you, no matter what you do. If you kill yourself over such things, you will just leave your loved ones behind in more pain. I was called all sorts of names, but did I commit suicide? Suffering and pain are part of life.”
“You know, success is heavy. Success is difficult,” she tells OkayAfrica. “For me, it’s been almost 30 years since I first tasted success. So I’ve seen plenty of things. I’ve lived. There have been times when, if I didn’t have a strong character, I could have put an end to my life. I could’ve put an end to it all, such was the extent of the unimaginable stuff I saw happening around me.”
“But I wrote this song to give an example to everyone and to say that in life you have to be STRONG,” Oumou continues. “Everybody will encounter some problem one day or another. But you have to be stronger than the problem so you can go beyond it. When you’re weak, either the problem kills you, or you kill yourself. But everyone has problems. Even the heads of state, the kings, the queens, they have their personal problems. The human spirit just has to be strong, so it can face those problems. You have to get it in your head that the problem will go away one day.”
Watch the new music video for “Yere Faga,” premiering with us here today, above. Pre-order Mogoya here, due May 19 from No Format!