(C. M. Rubin) - “Music is the 100% best medicine for sadness and it helps people find more faith in life
. And while feeling sad is a very natural thing, for me as a singer, music is the best healer.” — Awa Sangho
Mali-born New York based singer-songwriter Awa Sangho, who will perform at BAM this month, is a rising star on the global music scene. Raised by a grandmother who encouraged her to set her sights high, she has done just that, overcoming hardship and challenges in her youth to find success as a singer, percussionist, and composer. She is a passionate activist for educating young girls and women in West Africa, condemning the practice of female genital mutilation. Her recently released debut solo album, Ala Ta, is a blend of African rhythms and acoustic instrumentation. “Who I am represents Africa, all of Africa,” she says, clearly proud of her self-proclaimed role as cultural ambassador. In her interview in The Global Search for Education, she speaks about her journey as an artist so far, the power of music as a universal language, and why education can “open any door on this earth.”
How has music influenced your life? What does it mean to you? Would you say music means the same to you now as it did earlier in your career?
Music came into my life because I’m a very nostalgic and sensitive person. When I was five years old, I was living with my grandmother, and I missed my mom. So I started singing to ease my pain, and express my yearning. Within a very short period of time, people in the village started gathering around me when I would sing, and offer me treats. It happened very naturally. Later on, during some difficult teenage years, my father—a journalist—introduced me to the members of the Ensemble Koteba Abidjan. I auditioned and became involved with various aspects of their engagements, and soon they started incorporating me fully into their productions. Their shows incorporate rich traditions in Western African music, theater and dance, and provided me with not only an outlet for me artistically, but it also helped me soothe a lot of the angst I was feeling at the time.
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