Various Artists

African Queens

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This is a top-notch compilation of female African vocalists. It kicks off with a live version of the classic "Pata Pata" by the South African legend Myriam Makeba. Her sensuous delivery on the track shows how she can move a crowd. Malian Amy Koita has an impassioned voice from the desert that seems timeless. Her music combines traditional elements with modern touches. The Senegalese singer Kine Lam became famous for being one of the first female vocalists to challenge men on their own ground. One listen to her "Ndela Wade" will convince the listener that the challenge was a serious one. "Moussolou" is the sensuous title cut from an album that was a huge seller for Malian Oumou Sangare. It speaks of forbidden feminist topics from the sands of the desert. The Mutuashi queen Tshala Muana of Congo weighs in with her bass-driven "Amina." From West Africa, Oumou Dioubate of Guinee puts out some compressed steam on her "Fenko." The superstar from Congo, Mbilia Bell, is represented here by a nine-minute track of ferociously swinging soukous complimented by her sweetly powerful voice. The album is rounded out by two different styles from Cameroun. Bebe Manga delivers the soulful classic "Ami O," a track underpinned by a bubbling bassline that continues relentlessly for almost seven minutes. Grace Decca then does a new-look makossa that cooks.

Highly recommended to those seeking to hear some of the best African women vocalists.

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