Mamadou and Vanessa
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Mamadou and Vanessa

Berkeley, California, United States

Berkeley, California, United States
Band World Blues


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Indie Corner"

Indie Corner
New CDs from independent artists and labels that deserve a listen. Terry O'Laughlin, Diaspora.

Nacama by Mamdou and Vanessa - An independently produced gem of African based original music played primarily on the kamalngoni by Mamadou. The music is delightful, much better than many I've heard in a similar style from major labels. On Sidibe Records.

Available at CD Baby, where you can sample all the songs. My favorites are Follow You and N'Dia.

reviewed 6/21/05 - Terry O'Laughlin, Diaspora


Nacama by Mamadou & Vanessa Sidibe
Mamadou Sidibe is a musician/singer/songwriter from Wassalou Mali, married to an Afro-Cuban salsa musician/singer from the USA: they now make their home in Berkeley, California. One of the things that makes NACAMA interesting is the way the two singers blend or alternate Bambara (Mamadou's native language) with English. Mamadou plays the Kameln'goni (an eight-string version of the n'goni, which he invented) to accompany the vocals. The overall sound on NACAMA still sounds traditional to most Western ears, as it's primarily acoustic and uses traditional Malian instruments. For the most part the songs are low-key, but some are danceable; just not pounding beats, but more subtle. At times the n'goni sounds like a cross between a banjo and a guitar (yes, there used to be an instrument made in the USA known as a banjo guitar, but Mamadou's n'Goni only sounds like that once in a while). The use of repetitive phrases, typical of much African music, hits home even more when sung in English. Of course, much of the Afro-American music from the US's Southern states used to sound like this: the only contemporary singer/songwriters who uses this technique today (outside of Africa) seems to be Van Morrison. If you're not in the mood this can be off-putting; but if you're in the groove, the effect is very powerful. Vanessa has a very pleasing, seductive voice which helps listener appreciation even more; as does the balafon (marimba). No drum kit or synth drums; just a single djembe (West African hand drum), which sounds perfect for the cuts on NACAMA. A powerful introduction to a powerful duo! - D.C. Donovan

"World Music CD Reviews"

Mamadou Sidibe walked into the KAOS studio on 10 May 2002 holding in his hands the instrument he helped popularize as a young musician: the kamelengoni (or kamele n'goni). Sidibe was one of the first to play this less-known cousin of the kora (a 21-stringed harp) with eight strings instead of the traditional six. The added range helped, but his inherent skill got him gigs across Africa and Europe, playing with the likes of Toumani Diabate, Oumou Sangare, and the legendary Coumba Sidibe. That day at KAOS he was touring with guitarist Markus James in support of James' album Nightbird. Now Sidibe has his own CD in collaboration with vocalist Vanessa Sidibe (possibly also known as Vanessa Janora). Vanessa provides English-language counterpoise to Mamadou's plucking and singing. While such linguistic hybrids often fall flat, Vanessa's vocals, English or other, are sweet and true. The CD starts with "Nacama" about the difficulty of destiny. The hypnotic, loping groove sets the pace, over which occasionally springs a kamelengoni riff or a soulful burst from Vanessa. It's a winning combination, this blending of African instruments and vocals with English blues-soul vocals. From the fast "Sen Sen" to the sorrowful "N'Dia" Nacama shines.

©2005 Scott Allan Stevens, Earball Media - Scott Allan Stevens

"Dirty Linen"

The duo of Malian kameln'gon player Mamadou Sidibe and Californian vocalist Vanessa Sidibe emphasizes the slow, hypnotic cadences of Mali's version of the acoustic blues. Vanessa Sidibe's alluring vocals are a pleasant counterpart to Mamadou's spry fretwork on the kameln'goni and expressive singing, with additional texture added by guitar, balafon, djembe and bass. All in all, a very listenable cross-cultural hybrid from two talented and versatile musicians.
Feb/Mar 2006 - MP

"Stylus Magazine"

As the recent release of Festival in the Desert demonstrates, the links between Africa and American rhythm and blues aren't merely historical. There's a vibrant, fascinating musical culture thriving in Mali and in other west African nations that has been championed by Robert Plant, Stevie Wonder and even Bruce Cockburn. If you're a fan of traditional American music, then check out Ali Farka Toure, the Malian John Lee Hooker, whose music is relatively well-known in the west, and is therefore pretty easy to track down. Or try Amadou et Mariam, the Blind Couple of Mali, who started creating music in a school for blind musicians set up by Stevie Wonder. Personally, though, I'd suggest beginning your Malian musical journey with Mamadou Sidibe. Sidibe's Nacama was just released, and it features an almost seamless blend of blues licks and African rhythms. It's one of the most pleasant albums I've heard in years.

Sidibe has been performing music in Europe, North America, and his native Africa since the early 1980s. He was instrumental in transforming Malian music from its religious and sacred origins to more contemporary terrain (meaning songs about love, politics and daily life). He's performed with artists from Cuba, the United States, France and many other countries. In other words, he's been around, and this album demonstrates this very well. There is an effortless blending of musical styles, tempos and even languages throughout. More importantly, he follows one of the truest of musical rules: keep it simple, stupid.

Take "Nemalon". There are really only three basic parts to this song: the kameln'goni (a sort of guitar) melody, the very African rhythm (at times parallel to the melody, at times in contradiction to it); and the vocals, which are sung in, I think, Bambara (the main language in Mali) and English (Sidibe's partner, Vanessa Janora Sidibe, sings the English choruses). These three elements blend together to create a song that is, in fact, quite complex. It combines not only languages but also musical sensibilities (African and rhythm and blues). This is a great example of how African music has managed to incorporate the influences and styles of popular music in the United States and elsewhere in order to expand and broaden their own traditional music styles. The results in "Nemalon" are beautiful, lilting, and even a bit hypnotic.

The other songs on this album use these same sparse tools to create similar, fascinating effects. "N'goni Kadi" is a complex instrumental, featuring the kameln'goni; "Fula" has a great rhythm (using a metallic xylophone-like instrument, shakers, bass, and some other, fuzzy instrument); and the title song features some wonderful vocal work by both Sidibes (including Vanessa's cryptic English lyrics, "It's the real world / Destiny"). There isn't a bad song in the bunch here, and each one offers a different take on the same simple elements Sidibe uses to create all his work.

Perhaps what I like best about this album is that it features largely acoustic instruments; there aren't any electric guitars (or even electric kameln'gonis) here. Since Sidibe's instrumentation is so essential—and dominates so many of the songs—I sense a close kinship between this album and the music of, say, Leadbelly, early Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and other classic country blues artists. Of course, Sidibe's music is entirely different from the work of those American artists. Sidibe plays Malian music, where rhythm is central to all facets of life; his kameln'goni is usually the melodic accompaniment to the intricate rhythms. However, at the center of his music is the same sensibility that you'll find in Muddy Waters: a sense of music as a tool for the recreation of everyday life into something special, even magical. There aren't many good blues albums being made in America today; but there are plenty in Africa. Nacama is one of the best of recent years.

Reviewed by: Michael Heumann
Reviewed on: 2004-12-01 - Michael Heumann

"Glamour Magazine"

LA CURIOSITA (Glamour Magazine Online, Italy, June 2005)
Se Amadou et Mariam sono due super star, nel Mali si fa largo anche un'altra coppia (artistica e di fatto) che come loro mescola blues e tradizione locale. Si tratta di Mamadou et Vanessa che si sono auto-prodotti un cd solo strumentale: Nacama, in vendita su Amazon.
Info: - Glamour Magazine Online, Italy


CDs: Nacama, Wassoulou at

Song: Sen Sen: Best Song, Independent Music Awards, 2006, and Best Song in the Billboard Music Awards, 2006.



Truly a world music couple, master kamelngoni player, Mamadou Sidibe from Mali, West Africa and New York salsera, Vanessa Sidibe are an exciting duo. Together and joined by others, they create a seamless blend of blues licks and African rhythms.

Mamadou Sidibe played a groundbreaking role in transforming the music in the Wassoulou Region of Mali from it's origns in hunters' sacred melodies--played on the six string dosngoni (hunters' harps)-- to a music of love, politics and daily life. He was one of the first to expand the instruments range with two extra strings,creating the now popular kamelngoni. He spread these new sounds through recordings and performances with legendary Malian artists Coumba Sidibe, Oumu Sangare, and Ramatu Diakite in Africa, Europe and the United States.

Vanessa Sidibe, is an accomplished Afro-Cuban and Salsa musician. She has performed, recorded and taught in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City for over 15 years. She brings ethereal sensuality to all her vocals whether singing in English, Bambara or Spanish.