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Les Amazones d'Afrique

Music / Global / Mali

The singers of Les Amazones d'Afriques are a special kind of supergroup, not only for fans of African music traditions. The vocal ensemble from Benin, Gabon, Mali, and Nigeria is wowing plenty of listeners with no connection to the Eurocentrically-named "world music" genre, which tends to lump together all kinds of styles and traditions from Marrakesh to Cape Town.

Founded in 2015, the twelve members appropriately enough chose the name of a group of female hunters known as the Dahomey Amazons in the 18th and 19th centuries. Armed to the teeth, they took down elephants, among other prey. With complex rhythms and polyphonic vocals, their namesakes, among them Kandia Kouyaté, Nneka Egbuna, and Mariam Doumbia, craft lively songs of great musical brilliance. Mande music, downtempo, rock, dub, and trip hop all find their way into the mix. But the Amazons don't only enchant, they also raise awareness about important issues such as sexualized violence and female genital mutilation in African countries. You'd be hard pressed to find more empowering music.

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