b. Kankan, Guinea. Though born in Guinea, singer Fanta Sacko’s family was Malian, and she has based her operations there since childhood. The daughter of a renowned kora player, and related to such legends as Sidiki Diabate and Madu Bansang, her early exposure to native music was furthered by her interest in artists such as Fodeba Keita and Sory Kandia. Her professional career began in the mid-60s and by the end of the decade she had distilled these influences into an attractive, individual style, completed by the then unusual practice of singing about romantic concerns. She named the style ‘jamana kura’, or ‘new age’. Musically, it consisted of accessible, melodious songs accompanied by acoustic guitars (with unusual tunings ensuring they sounded much like the traditional kora) and ngoni (flutes). Hits such as ‘Jarabi’ helped establish her, but becoming a mother then limited her recording and performing. That and her severe disappointment with her solo album, Musique Du Mali. Government agents contacted her in 1970 with an offer of recording her best-known songs, including ‘Jarabi’ and ‘Jimbe Wata Dabola’, with the royalties to be split between the two parties. She never received any recompense, despite the fact that the record is still on catalogue in the 90s - a testament to its enduring popularity, but also the occasionally Machiavellian practices of the African music industry. Denied an outlet for her music, her popularity waned, though she continued to perform at civil ceremonies and parties. In the mid-80s it was reported she had suffered from over-exposure to a skin bleach (many Malian singers still associate paleness of skin with beauty) and retired from the stage.
Share this page