Simphiwe Dana’s released her long-awaited 5th studio album, Bamako - co-produced by legendary Malian musician Salif Keita and recorded in Mali, a country of which she is fond. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA
Simphiwe Dana’s released her long-awaited 5th studio album, Bamako - co-produced by legendary Malian musician Salif Keita and recorded in Mali, a country of which she is fond. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA

Simphiwe Dana drops much-anticipated 5th studio album

By Amanda Maliba Time of article published Apr 26, 2020

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Simphiwe Dana’s released her long-awaited 5th studio album, Bamako - co-produced by legendary Malian musician Salif Keita and recorded in Mali, a country of which she is fond.

The singer said the album, which had been in the making for three years before it was released on Friday, gave her a sense of “relief and excitement”.

“The musicality of Mali is godly.

“I am tempted to believe that the whole world learnt how to make and play string instruments from them.

“I went to Mali to enhance the music production of my work and worked with the legendary Salif Keita and his musicians Djessou Mory Kante and Madou Diabate among others.

“He (Keita) was my chosen partner because at every party or dinner that I have ever hosted, he’s been a fixture in my DJ’s playlist.

“I love how he composes music and his vocal prowess,” Dana said.

The 13-track album features songs that were already released such as Usikhonzile and Uzokhala which, according to the songstress, were well received by the public and carry themes varying from matters of the heart, relationships, self love and a call for better leadership on the continent.

She described the album’s sound as a fusion of musical styles from traditional Malian music, mixed with reggae and dance hall grooves from the Caribbean, without losing signature her sound. “Producing this album has been gruelling work and emotionally draining but over and above that, I believe people are in for a treat.

“I am proud that I did that. I overcame my impostor syndrome and spent all those months crafting this gift. I finally had the courage to acknowledge my producing skills.

“I did so much production on Kulture Noir and Firebrand and never credited myself. Working with Keita and his people was the cherry on top,” she said, adding that she was inspired by human conditions “that create the authenticity that people emotionally identify with” rather than her own experiences.

The album features Keita and Grammy award-winning Malian singer and guitarist Vieux Farka Toure.

“I wouldn’t say that this album is way different from the other four but I do know that my personal, emotional and spiritual growth is never out of the scope of who I am.”

This year Dana marked 16 years of making music and has since received various recognitions that have cemented her place in the music industry. She said she draws inspiration from South Africa’s greats such as Miriam Makeba, Busi Mhlongo and Dorothy Masuka.

She has created memorable work in the albums Zandisile, The One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street, Kulture Noir, Firebrand, An Evening with Simphiwe Dana Live In Concert and Simphiwe Dana Symphony Experience, featuring Buika and Asa.

Although this is an exciting time for Dana, she admitted that the past two years have been difficult for her.

“I don’t think I have ever been more depressed and anxious as I have been in the past two years. There were months when I couldn’t get out of bed.

“I couldn’t drive because I’d have panic attacks.

“I lost friends because I couldn’t be there for them in ways that count to them. I’m hoping that it was all for something.”

Sunday Independent 

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