Her music is somewhat different from that of Oumou Sangaré, but more similar to the style of Nahawa Doumbia since she is using the same didadi rhythm.
Unlike the malinké praise singers, these young artists addressed contemporary issues in their lyrics, such as social problems. Although the singers are mainly Peul they are singing in the wassoulou dialect of the bambara language.
The pentatonic wassoulou music itself is very distinct from malinke music and is reminiscent of the rhythms of Malian hunter music played with the Dozon N'Goni (hunter's lute), but using instead the smaller Kamelen N'Goni (6-string youth lute). Other instruments used are the traditional one-string violon, the soukou, the M'Bolon (bass lute), senoufo balafon, djembé and and also the electric guitar. The rhythms are repetitive and hypnotising, but there is room for improvisation on the string instruments.
Although her family was opposed to a musical career (her father being a marabout), Sali started singing in the Ensemble Instrumental National du Mali in the early 1980s. In 1987, she formed her own ensemble, and her first cassette Tounkan Magni was a big hit in Mali, before anyone had heard of Oumou Sangaré. Few recordings of her are internationally distributed, but a few tracks of Wassoulou Foli can be found on the two Wassoulou Sound samplers released by Stern's Music [reviewed here – From Timbuktu to Gao is the reissue of N’Daya International ]» (Frank Bessem’s Musiques d’Afrique)
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