Modern Songs Rooted in Burkinabe Jeli Tradition

Massa Dembele – Mezana Dounia (Izniz Recordings, 2017)

Mezana Dounia is the first album recorded by jeli (praise singers, social commentators and historians, also known as griots) musician Massa Dembele from Burkina Faso. Dembele is a well-known surname within the jeli community.

Massa Dembele writes songs about embracing diversity within Burkina Faso’s ethnic groups, calls out to put an end to forced marriages of young women, the loss of superficial youth beauty, fear of the modern world, betrayal, the way of the jeli, and Massa’s grandmother Yedini.

Mezana Dounia is an acoustic album that highlights Massa Dembele’s gratifying vocals and the hypnotic kamele ngoni (a West African harp-lute). Massa Dembele recorded the album in Burkina Faso’s capital and played all the instruments, including percussion instruments such as calabash, jembe and bara drums.

Two guests appear on Mezana Dounia, Ali Diara on bala (balaphon) and Mamadou Dao on folikan flute.

The original lyrics in Mande are available in English, translated by Massa Dembele and Sarah Lajoie Flyng Ouédraogo at www.izniz.com/massa-demebele.pdf.

Buy Mezana Dounia

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

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