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Amadou & Mariam

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  • June 11, 2013

    Amadou & Mariam release the digital EP Mali Meets Latin America in the US today as the Malian duo prepares to kick off a North American summer tour at Bonnaroo this weekend. The EP features remixes of four tracks from their 2012 album Folila by artists from Buenos Aires (Frikstailers and King Coya, aka Gaby Kerpel) and Bogotá (Bomba Estéreo and Sidestepper) and was inspired by the couple’s first visit to perform in Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Argentina in 2012, when they met several of the producers featured on this collection.

  • April 16, 2013

    The line-up for the 2013 Luminato Festival in Toronto has been announced, and included among this year’s performers are Bombino, Amadou & Mariam, Laurie Anderson, and Carolina Chocolate Drops. All of these artists will give free concerts in David Pecaut Square at the Hub of the Festival, which runs from June 14 to 23. Among the Luminato Festival’s other highlights will be a multi-artist, two-night tribute to Joni Mitchell at Massey Hall.

  • about Amadou & Mariam

    Singer Mariam Doumbia and guitarist/vocalist Amadou Bagayoko met more than 30 years ago at the Institute for Young Blind People in Bamako, the capital of Mali, and they've been performing as a duo for almost as long. For years, they've been stars in West Africa and in France, where they now have a home. But that turned out to be just the start for them. Following the release of their 2005 Nonesuch debut, Dimanche à Bamako, the middle-aged, married pair was embraced by a new, multi-generational audience in the US and in the UK. They were welcomed at indie rock-leaning festivals like Lollapalooza, Coachella, and Glastonbury and have been asked to tour with such artists as former Blur front-man Damon Albarn, on his itinerant revue, Afrika Express; the Scissor Sisters, on a series of English dates; and Coldplay, who've chosen the couple as the opener for their spring '09 US dates. Welcome to Mali, the duo's adventurous second Nonesuch disc, illustrates why.

    As a teenage guitarist during the '70s, the gifted Amadou played with the popular West African band, Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako. Mariam, meanwhile, sang at weddings and other traditional Malian festivals. They played their first concert as a duo in 1980 and later moved to Abidjan, capital of the neighboring Ivory Coast, where they began their recording career in 1986. By the late '90s, the couple was moving regularly between Bamako and Paris, where they signed to Universal and released the albums Sou Ni Ti (1998), Tje ni Mousso (1999), and Wati (2002). Most American listeners discovered Amadou & Mariam via the duo’s 2005 Nonesuch debut, Dimanche à Bamako, produced by the Paris-based world-music provocateur Manu Chao, who himself commands a large States-side following.

    With Chao behind the wheel, Dimanche à Bamako was like a fast, bumpy taxi ride straight into the heart of the Malian capital. Cacophonous sounds from the streets mixed in with the spare, skittering rhythms of the songs. It felt thrillingly immediate, like the soundtrack to a jump cut-filled, color-saturated documentary. Dimanche à Bamako became a global hit, selling more than 600,000 copies worldwide and garnering Amadou & Mariam numerous honors, including a Grammy nomination; France’s prestigious Victoire de la Musique; and the Album of the Year and Best African Album distinctions in the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music. Amadou & Mariam also became the first African artists to make the short list in MOJO magazine’s annual Honours List.

    Though less high-concept than its predecessor, Amadou & Mariam’s latest effort is perhaps an even more authentic representation of who they are as songwriters and performers. All the exhilaration and sweat, the vocal interplay and guitar fire, of their live shows make it onto these beckoning tracks. On Welcome to Mali, the widely traveled pair extend an invitation to a place that’s more a state of mind than a spot on a map, and listeners from around the globe may find that it feels a lot like home.

on May 29, 2008 - 7:06pm

Singer Mariam Doumbia and guitarist/vocalist Amadou Bagayoko met more than 30 years ago at the Institute for Young Blind People in Bamako, the capital of Mali, and they've been performing as a duo for almost as long. For years, they've been stars in West Africa and in France, where they now have a home. But that turned out to be just the start for them. Following the release of their 2005 Nonesuch debut, Dimanche à Bamako, the middle-aged, married pair was embraced by a new, multi-generational audience in the US and in the UK. They were welcomed at indie rock-leaning festivals like Lollapalooza, Coachella, and Glastonbury and have been asked to tour with such artists as former Blur front-man Damon Albarn, on his itinerant revue, Afrika Express; the Scissor Sisters, on a series of English dates; and Coldplay, who've chosen the couple as the opener for their spring '09 US dates. Welcome to Mali, the duo's adventurous second Nonesuch disc, illustrates why.

As a teenage guitarist during the '70s, the gifted Amadou played with the popular West African band, Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako. Mariam, meanwhile, sang at weddings and other traditional Malian festivals. They played their first concert as a duo in 1980 and later moved to Abidjan, capital of the neighboring Ivory Coast, where they began their recording career in 1986. By the late '90s, the couple was moving regularly between Bamako and Paris, where they signed to Universal and released the albums Sou Ni Ti (1998), Tje ni Mousso (1999), and Wati (2002). Most American listeners discovered Amadou & Mariam via the duo’s 2005 Nonesuch debut, Dimanche à Bamako, produced by the Paris-based world-music provocateur Manu Chao, who himself commands a large States-side following.

With Chao behind the wheel, Dimanche à Bamako was like a fast, bumpy taxi ride straight into the heart of the Malian capital. Cacophonous sounds from the streets mixed in with the spare, skittering rhythms of the songs. It felt thrillingly immediate, like the soundtrack to a jump cut-filled, color-saturated documentary. Dimanche à Bamako became a global hit, selling more than 600,000 copies worldwide and garnering Amadou & Mariam numerous honors, including a Grammy nomination; France’s prestigious Victoire de la Musique; and the Album of the Year and Best African Album distinctions in the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music. Amadou & Mariam also became the first African artists to make the short list in MOJO magazine’s annual Honours List.

Though less high-concept than its predecessor, Amadou & Mariam’s latest effort is perhaps an even more authentic representation of who they are as songwriters and performers. All the exhilaration and sweat, the vocal interplay and guitar fire, of their live shows make it onto these beckoning tracks. On Welcome to Mali, the widely traveled pair extend an invitation to a place that’s more a state of mind than a spot on a map, and listeners from around the globe may find that it feels a lot like home.

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Amadou & Mariam
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Manu Chao, Damon Albarn, Blur
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