b. c.1964, Kankan, Guinea. Born into a family of ‘jelis’ (hereditary praise singers), Dioubate started singing at the age of seven. Six years later her mother, Gnamakoro Kante, died and Oumou replaced her as the singer with the traditional Kankan Regional Ensemble. She married her cousin, a musician and teacher, with whom she moved to Conakry (the Guinean capital) and formed Les Messagers De Morifing Diabate in 1983. She began to develop a modern style with outspokenly feminist lyrics. Moving to Paris in the mid-80s, she was spotted in 1987 by the renowned producer Ibrahima Sylla while singing backing vocals on Ismaël Lo’s N’Diawar. Dioubate and Sylla worked on her debut solo album for three years, finally completing Lancey in 1990. Even then Sylla considered the album, with its high-tech funky sound and controversial lyrics, as too daring for release. Dioubate returned to Guinea in the early 90s to discover that she had become even more controversial than ever and her husband had left her. At this point Sylla decided to release Lancey, which became an instant hit in Guinea and across West Africa. The album was subsequently picked up by Stern’s Records and released internationally. The success of Lancey gave Dioubate celebrity status in her home country where she remains a controversial figure. Wambara was an even more daring and varied set than its predecessor, with Sylla again producing and Dioubate’s voice soaring over a mix of funk, jazz, reggae, salsa and West African sounds. To promote the album Dioubate toured internationally as a part of the Griot Groove tour alongside fellow West African artists Sékouba Bambino and Kandia Kouyaté.
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