Our story so far…
Les Amazones d’Afrique are an all-female collective of West African musicians whose motive, besides making music, is to campaign for gender equality. Given their line-up, they have been dubbed accurately by the international media as a supergroup. The group’s ever changing line-up has included many names synonymous with African music, including Angélique Kidjo, Oumou Sangaré and Mariam Doumbia (of Amadou and Mariam). Amongst those featuring on their debut album is Kandia Kouyaté, one of the era’s greatest Malay griots; Rokia Koné, ‘The Rose of Bamako’, Mamani Keïta, UNICEF ambassador and Nigerian singer Nneka; Mariam Koné, chorister of Cheick Tidiane Seck; and Mouneïssa Tandina, who has accompanied the Rail Band, Salif Keïta, Oumou Sangaré and dozens more.
This project intersects generations and sounds in its musical struggle against female disenfranchisement. “We dare to believe that music can contribute to the trigger of behaviour change,” a spokesperson for the group has said.
Les Amazones d’Afrique performed their first concert at Fiesta des Suds in Marseilles in October 2015. The response to their set resulted in them being signed to Real World Records. Their first single and video, ‘I Play The Kora’, was a key statement by the band. Its message is a metaphor. Playing the kora —a harp-like instrument native to West Africa— was denied to women for centuries, and the empowerment in the lyric is a call to unity and a call to arms.
The group’s debut album, République Amazone, produced by Liam Farrell aka Doctor L (Mbongwana Star, Tony Allen, Assassin) was released in March 2017, and was listed by The Guardian as one of the Top 50 albums of that year. The band made their UK national TV debut in May 2018 on BBC Two’s flagship music show Later… with Jools Holland.
In 2019, Les Amazones d’Afrique have assembled a new team of singers from Africa and members of the diaspora to continue fighting their cause gender equality. A new single, ‘Amazones Power’, was recorded in Paris featuring 17 vocalists, and the message is loud and clear: Violence against women must stop. Women must be able to realise their potential and not be held back by the dominant patriarchy.
‘Amazones Power’ tackles these issues head on. “Never again, silence, violence. I want to live and to be free.”
Three generations of women sing out in unison, calling for a future without the threat of female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual violence, lack of education and forced marriage. Women should be able to express their anger. Things must change.
Les Amazones d’Afrique recognise the need for women to support and respect their fellow women. The majority of FGM is carried out by women to young girls— not because they wish to inflict cruelty upon the younger generation, but because they feel duty bound to uphold the cultural traditions. Girls and women who avoid “the cut” —choosing instead to pursue education— will face immense pressure from fellow women, and will be seen as a bad example; a woman who has shown disrespect for her family and community.