Pullin’ ‘Tubes: Amadou & Miriam’s Tale

Up until about a few weeks ago I hadn’t heard the amazing story of the husband and wife act Amadou & Mariam. The duo, who are both blind – Amadou since contracting a congenital cataract as a teenager and Mariam whom become blind at the age of 5 – met and feel in love some 30 years ago at Mali’s Bamako Institute for the Young Blind after discovering they both had a mutual love of music.

The pair whom both contributed heavily to the school’s music program decided to start making music on their own after marrying in 1980 (Amadou had been touring and recording professionally since the late 1960s) and have been producing critically acclaimed music ever since. The pair recently released their latest album Welcome To Mali, let’s check out the first single Sabali which was produced by Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz fame…

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Amadou & Miriam who are known for their live shows kick off their US tour on June 2 in Chicago, with a notable stop in Manchester, TN for this year’s Bonnaroo festival – so circle them on your schedule.

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One Response

  1. It has taken an age, but the western world is finally starting to celebrate the music of Africa in all its wonderfully rich diversity, rather than misrepresenting it as a homogenous entity. In reality, the differences between Ghanaian hi-life and Zimbabwean jit are as clearly pronounced as those between rock and soul, and one African country is proving particularly adept at communicating its own distinctive identity. From the former French colony of Mali in west Africa, three bona fide stars have recently entered the global consciousness: Toumani Diabete, with his mesmeric kora symphonies; Tinariwen, with their hard, hypnotic desert-blues; and now Amadou and Mariam, who share Tinariwen’s blues roots and are perhaps the most eclectic and commercially viable of the bunch.

    Having steadily gained popularity in their homeland and then among the African diaspora in Paris, the duo made inroads into the wider mainstream with 2005’s Dimanche a Bamako, produced by Manu Chao and brimful of the hustle and bustle of a Sunday in the Mali capital. Their new record is even more vibrant, a hotchpotch of blues, rock, Europop, hip-hop and ska.

    it would be easy to view Welcome to Mali as a dilution of some assumed notion of traditional African music. Until, that is, Amadou makes it clear that this bubbling mongrel mixture is traditional African music, a bewildering but accurate representation of life in modern Mali.

    A fun listen.

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