Amadou & Mariam
Being a very special place musically Mali teems with brilliant singers and players, but Amadou & Mariam stand out even in such a heavy company. The blind couple is an important export article for their poor country: Spiced with rock, soul and folk elements, their African blues is hard to resist. While its roots go back hundreds of years, it doesn’t shun its contemporary offspring, but creates alliances with them never forgetting its own character. The result is rich, timeless and awesomely soulful, and, of course, very danceable.
Singer-guitarist Amadou Bagayoko and singer Mariam Doumbia met at Mali’s Institute for Blind Youth. After marrying in 1980, they started to make music together and soon got a reputation both in Mali and its neighboring countries. In 1986 they moved to Ivory Coast, where they made several cassette albums and met Stevie Wonder, through whom they started to get gigs at international festivals.
In 1996 they relocated again, now to Paris, and got signed by Polygram. The game rose to the first division, when the world music star Manu Chao produced their Dimanche à Bamako album that was released in 2005. It’s now a classic. Amadou & Mariam have since won many music awards in different countries and worked actively in several benefit projects.
They have collaborated with Damon Albarn, U2 and Scissors Sisters, among others. In 2009 Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour played a whole gig with them and Santigold, TV on the Radio and Bertrand Cantat guest on their latest album, the excellent Folila (2012).