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Fanta Damba (1938-19?)
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Musiques du Mali

Fanta Damba is generally referred to as the Grande Vedette Malienne. Together with Mokontafe Sacko, she was among the first female griots reaching national and even international fame through radio and recordings. Born into a family of griots - both of her parents were musicians - she started a professional career in the Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali. Trained by the best griots of the country, she was already famous in Mali by the age of 16, and in 1975, she was the first jalimuso to perform as a solo singer in Europe (source: The African Music Encyclopedia).

Fanta Damba has been acknowledged to be an inspiring example for young Mory Kante, Youssou N'Dour or Rokia Traoré who would grow world stars decades later. As a griot, she mastered the important heritage of Malian history in music and storytelling. She was loved because of the emotion and sensitivity in her voice. In addition, her way of singing was influenced by the melodies and rhythms of the bambara of Segou, different from the malinké in West Mali, the home area of so many griots.

Fanta Damba with Mady Tounkara (© M. Thuillier)
On her first album she was accompanied by Mady Tounkara, on later albums by kora player Batourou Sekou Kouyaté.

Important note: there are two singers bearing the name of Fanta Damba, Fanta Damba Koroba or Fanta Damba No. 1, and Fanta Damba No. 2. To give an illustration of the importance of both singers: the Palais des Congrès in Bamako, whose rooms are named after famous griots of Mali, has both a salle Fanta Damba N° 1 and a salle Fanta Damba N° 2. Little is known about Fanta Damba No. 2. To my knowledge all information on this page applies to Fanta Damba No. 1.

Born: 1938 in Segou (Central Mali)
Style: Mandingo / bambara / griot.


Title Year Label Remarks
Fanta Damba du Mali Vol. 3 2002 Bolibana
Fanta Damba du Mali Vol. 2 2002 Bolibana BIP 331
Fanta Damba du Mali Vol. 1 2002 Bolibana
Fanta Damba 1985 Disques Esperance ESP 7518
Fanta Damba 1983 SP 1002
Fanta Damba 1982 Sako Production SP 005
Fanta Damba 1981 Sonodisc
Bahamadou Simogo 1980 Celluloid CEL 6637
Sékou Semega 1977 Songhoï Records SON 8210 With Batourou Sekou Kouyate
Ousmane Camara 1975 Songhoï Records SON 8205 With Batourou Sekou Kouyate
Hamet 1975 Songhoï Records SON 8202 With Batourou Sekou Kouyate
la grande vedette malienne 1975 Songhoï Records SON 8201 With Batourou Sekou Kouyate
Première anthologie de la Musique malienne,
volume 6. La tradition épique
1971? Bärenreiter-Musicaphon BM 30 L 2506

The main body of the discography (1975-85) is based on the Radio Africa Discography of Malian vinyl recordings, compiled by Graeme Counsel [link...]

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