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Book chapter Book chapter Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Jelimusow': the superwomen of Malian music
Author:Durán, LucyISNI
Book title:Power, marginality and African oral literature / ed. by Graham Furniss and Liz Gunner. - Cambridge [etc.]: Cambridge University Press
Geographic term:Mali
traditional music
Abstract:The 'jeliw', the traditional hereditary professional musicians of the Manding peoples of West Africa, are still a conspicuous part of Manding culture. In historical sources the presence of women in Manding music is noted only in passing or not mentioned at all. One of the most striking developments of postindependence Manding music is the phenomenal rise in popularity of the female 'jeliw', the 'jelimusow'. The gendered division of musical tasks portrayed in early sources does not differ in essence from that of the present day: the 'jelike' (male 'jeli') is the instrumentalist and the story-teller, while the 'jelimusow' specializes in (praise) singing. With changing social and political circumstances, the emphasis in the 'jeli' music has shifted increasingly away from historical narrative towards praise and entertainment. In this women have had a crucial role to play. In Mali today, women singers have gained considerable prominence. They are very successful and lead their lives with singular independence. Through their music they are debating social conventions and, at the same time, they are involved in maintaining a sense of tradition within musical innovation. A list of recordings is presented at the end of the article.