Awa Poulo - Poulo Warali: Awesome Tapes From Africa
- Small producer
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 auspic ious as she gained popularity across the region. After several locally released tapes and CDs, this record is Poulo's first internationally-distributed record.
On Poulo Warali, she and her band combine the hallmarks of Peulh music—warm flute floating over cross-rhythmic n’goni (lute) riffs and resonant calabash gourd hand percussion—with broader Malian sounds like lightly-distorted guitar and a heavier, rollicking inertia. Shapeshifting layers of rhythm and woody overtones match Poulo’s commanding voice in a jocular yet deliberate dance. This is a relatively rare example of Malian Peulh music played in a modern, cosmopolitan context, reflecting the mixed society of Dilly, where Bambara, Soninke and Peulh-speaking people live among each other. Poulo’s conscious lyrics about community concerns speak to the distinctive identity of her broadly-flung people. While Peulh represents less than 10% of Mali’s melting pot of languages, the dynamic music here powerfully resonates well beyond the linguistic border
Awesome Tapes from Africa
Awesome Tapes From Africa is a record label and web site operated by Brian Shimkovitz.
The site was founded in 2006 in Brooklyn, New York.
The site was created as a way for Shimkovitz to share music he had come across while on a scholarship in Ghana.
He was interested in the variety of genres and artists he found, distributed largely on cassette tapes at markets, but that he had not come across outside West Africa.
In 2011 he transitioned the site from just a blog with posted recordings of collected tapes posted without the artists' permission to a commercial record label.
The goal of the company is to seed and expand an audience for the artists presented as well as provide opportunities to sell albums and tour.
Artists are paid every six months and receive 50% of the profits from an album.
Tapes presented on Awesome Tapes come from a variety of sources: gathered in Ghanaian street markets, purchased in stores in the US, or sent by others over the internet.
In addition to the website, Shimkovitz DJ's concerts, clubs and at festivals as Awesome Tapes From Africa, as well as hosts a show on Dublab.
Most Awesome Tapes From Africa releases are official rereleases of out-of-print cassettes from African musicians and bands.
SK Kakraba's Songs of Paapieye is the first album to consist of a new release. Although music is distributed in Africa via MP3 on mobile phones, Shimkovitz says the widest variety of music in West Africa is still available on cassette tape.
In the journal Public Culture, Awesome Tapes From Africa, along with record labels Sublime Frequencies and Parallel World, is discussed as being emblematic of "World Music 2.0" for combining the "open source ethics of online networks with long-standing countercultural networks of circulation" within cassette culture and music distribution in developing nations.