Mangala Camara

 

Mamoutou “Mangala “ Camara was born in 1960 in Kéniéba, a town located in Mali’s Kayes region near the frontier with Senegal. He was not born to a griot family, therefore was not supposed to sing. However,t Mangala, a nickname he received when he was a young boy, received the support and blessings of a respected griot. This permission enabled him to sing without any problems.

At the age of 8, he could found hanging around with the musicians of  Tambaoura Jazz, a local orchestra that he ended up joining 4 years later. Mangala’s performances with the Orchestre Régionale de Kayes at the 1980 and 1982 editions of the Biennalle du Mali, were memorable and earned him the respect of his peers.

In 1985, Salif Keïta invited him to join Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux, where he was a backing vocalist and a drummer. Mangala gained enormous experience as Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux toured the world. He eventually settled  in Paris, where he enjoyed the liberty which was so dear to him.

In between, Mangala received the RFI Découvertes Award in 1986. While in Bamako, Mangala and Les Ambassadeurs had worked with Zaka Percussions, whose bass player Alain Lecointe co-founded the band Donké with Mangala. They released ”Paris Bamako” in 1988, an album which was remixed and re-released three years later by Island Records.

In 1993, he released his first solo album “Complainte Mandingue Blues” followed by “Réexpedition,”  an album with an international fusion approach.

In 2001, Mangala returned to Mali. He often said that it was better to inspire oneself while rooted at home instead of being lost abroad. He also recorded a traditional music album entitled, “Chants et Musiques de Griots” with Yakouba Sissoko on the kora and Lansine Kouyaté on the balafon.

In 2006, he recorded the album “Minye Minye” with Ibrahima Sylla of Syllart Records, a massive success in Mali that also brought him widespread recognition for his talents. Off stage, Mangala was often criticised for his lifestyle by many of compatriots. He was a rebel that lived the way he wanted, no matter what others said.
His eccentricity and outspokenness was very unusual in Mali at the time. In the same year that he released,  Mangala sang the majestic « Mali Sadio » on Toumani Diabate’s “Boulevard de l’Indépendance” album, earning him further acclaim and respect.

In July 2010, recorded his final album “Renaissance” at studio Bogolan in Bamako. The album which was initially released posthumously in Mali is part of the. Despite struggles and poverty, he did not consider himself an unhappy man because he could always count on music to lift his spirits. It brought him lots of friendships such as his willingness to allow the Central African DJ/producer Boddhi Satva, the founder of the Ancestral Soul genre remix his old songs.

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