It first sounded like a “far-fetched” idea and just a dream, until it happened. Simphiwe Dana recorded her fifth album, Bamako, with legendary Mali-born singer-songwriter Salif Keita, which will drop on Friday 24 April.
“I still pinch myself. I got to work with Salif, a legend, a living legend,” she says. Working with the internationally acclaimed musical genius, who is regarded the “golden voice of Africa”, was an unforgettable and magical experience.
“I am so honoured that he agreed to work with me,” she tells Move!.
Simphiwe is known for her uniquely crafted sound, inspired by the spiritual, intellectual, political and revolutionary instincts.
Bamako, also the capital of Mali,is a breathtaking fusion of musical styles and traditions infused with traditional Malian music, Simphiwe says are sounds she has always wanted to explore as an artist.
Those who follow her music would know, from her first album Zandisile in 2004, whenever she is onstage, she takes audiences on a musical journey.
“Music is my life. If I didn’t have music, I’d have nothing. That is why I am still around,” Simphiwe adds.
On this 13-track album, love is a recurring theme and at the core of what this record is all about – from the lyrical content of songs such as Bye Bye, Kumnyama, Usikhonzile and One. Known to address socio-political issues in her music, Mama Was A Kitchen Girl does just that.
She sings about complexities of history while touching on South Africa’s history and present-day life of “kitchen girls” and “garden boys” – a history of colonial and apartheid exploitation and dispossession.
On this album, there is a partial remix of Salif’s Africa, which is a duet that becomes Ndizamile – sentiments of which are a call to African unity and solidarity.