Timbuktu is a stunning collection of songs, fusing her distinctive Malian sound and voice with elements of blues, folk and rock – resulting in a timeless body of work, free from borders and genres. The album weaves intimate sonic connections between traditional West African instruments and those linked to the history of the blues, most notably the kamele n’goni and its distant heirs, the Dobro and slide guitar. ‘Since 1990, I’ve never had a chance to cut myself off from the world and devote myself exclusively to music,’ she says. ‘I think you feel it in the music, but also in the lyrics which are fruit of all those moments when I was able to withdraw into myself and meditate.’ ‘Music is within me,’ Oumou declares. ‘Without it, I’m nothing, and nothing can take it away from me! I’ve put my life into this record, my whole life – this life in which I’ve known hunger, the humiliation of poverty and fear, and from which today, I draw glory.’ Since the release of her 1990 debut Moussolou, Sangaré has become an emblem for African womanhood. She has campaigned fearlessly to improve the position of women in Mali and to oppose polygamy, child marriage and a system that defines a ‘good wife’ as a submissive woman.