Nobody could have known what would happen when these two creative minds met at Mali’s Institute for the Young Blind. Since then, what they have created has been out in the world for everyone to admire and listen to.
Amadou & Mariam are musical icons that brought to the ears of people across the world, the irresistible and popular fusion music of rock and blues from Mali. The pair held a concert at the Alliance éthio-française on Wednesday March 19th, a night they made unforgettable. The concert was held as part of the French Language celebration week.
At the concert, the compound of the Alliance éthio-française was fully occupied with people doing everything they could to get a glimpse of the super stars except climb trees, which some attempted with out success.
Amadou Bagayoko plays the guitar like it is second nature to him. With his talent accompanied by the powerful voice of Mariam Doumbia, it doesn’t take long to understand why the pair are known as ‘the magic couple from Mali.’
They make their music using musical instruments from different parts of the world. “We like adding diversity, it makes the music more powerful, we like incorporating different sounds,” the artists said.
The pair also stated that they are huge fans of Ethiopian music. “We love Ethiopian music; we listen to it a lot. There are a lot of similarities between the rhythms from the two countries. We discovered a lot of Ethiopian music when we were in San Francisco,” they said.
“When we did tours, one of our musicians was married to an Ethiopian lady, so through the tour, on the bus, we listened to Ethiopian music,” Amadou said.
When asked if there was a possibility for them to collaborate with Ethiopian musicians, they stated it was a possibility. “We would like to do that but the way we create music is with feeling, we don’t necessarily schedule a program or make plans. But if the opportunity comes up, we would like to do it,” Mariam said.
The artists stated that telling stories through music is a tradition in Mali. “People sing about their daily life in their music, story telling is a huge part of the Africa continent as a whole. It is the same in Mali, people sing stories, pass messages of peace,” Amadou said.
Over the last few years big-selling albums such as ”Welcome to Mali” and ”Dimanche à Bamako” have taken Amadou & Mariam on an epic journey that has made the couple the best-selling – and best-loved – act to come out of Mali this century. Along the way they have performed with the likes of Damon Albarn, Manu Chao, the Scissor Sisters, Herbert Grönemeyer, K’Naan, Keziah Jones, Pink Floyd’s guitarist, David Gilmour and many more.
Now as musical icons, when asked what they listened to when they were younger before they created their own sounds, they stated they were fans of Stevie Wonder, James Brown and may others including Malian and French musicians.
The pair have gone to play in major festivals all over the world including Coachella, Lollapalooza and the Latitude Festival; they have also played at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in honour of President Barack Obama and the FIFA’s Kick-Off Celebration for 2010’s World Cup.
During their career Amadou & Mariam have performed at a number of benefit concerts, they became the Zeitz Foundation Ambassadors for Culture (Art) in 2009 and ambassadors for the World Food Program in 2011.
The two have won so many awards that they say their house looks like a museum. Among the many award they have taken are; “Victoire de la Musique” Award for best World Music album of the year with “Dimanche à Bamako” in 2005, two BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music in the African and Best Album categories for “Dimanche à Bamako” in 2005 and Best Group category in the inaugural Song lines Music Awards in 2009.
Their album ‘Welcome to Mali’ was nominated in the Best Contemporary World Music Album in 2010.