Awa Poulo is a singer of Peulh origin from Dilly commune, Mali, near the border with Mauritania. Largely pastoral and often nomadic, Peulh- (or Fula-)speaking peoples are found from Senegal to Ethiopia but predominate in the Sahel region of West Africa. Awesome Tapes From Africa is proud to release Poulo's newest recording of highly virtuosic folk-pop, fresh from the studio, broadcasting her vision of Peulh music beyond the grazing grounds and central markets of her remote home region in southwestern Mali. It's not very common to find a female singer performing publicly among the Peulh. But Poulo's mother's co-wife is Inna Baba Coulibaly, who is a celebrated singer most Malian music fans know. Coulibaly herself was brought into music by forces outside her control when a regional music contest required an entry from her village and she was chosen to be a singer. So, set in motion by a surprising series of events, young Poulo's entree into the music world was auspicious as she gained popularity across the region. After several locally released tapes and CDs, this record is Poulo's first internationally-distributed record.
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Long before Awesome Tapes From Africa, I was in Ghana as a student in 2002 where I met a lot of musicians. One musician SK Kakraba was around the university working a lot and his uncle was super famous for his gyil (wooden xylophone made of calabash gourds with spiderweb silk covers the holes for buzzing) mastery. Hailing from Lobi country in Upper West Region, Ghana, SK was a young and active member of the music community around Accra. We stayed in touch over the years, crossing paths again later when I returned to Ghana. Now he lives in LA (where I am currently based) and we’ve been hanging out and thought it would be cool to release a record. I feel like SK is doing something truly amazing and we must share his virtuosity and brilliant craft with the world. (He also builds and sells gyils; SK pretty much lives and breathes this instrument during waking hours). “Songs of Paapieye” is a collection of traditional songs and modes from SK’s hometown. Solo gyil, very intense, very beautiful. This is the first time ATFA has done a new recording as an official tape release.
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