Amadou & Mariam are as experimental—and as political—as ever

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THEY were once called the “blind couple of Mali”, having first met at the country’s Institute for the Young Blind. Now their first names—“Amadou & Mariam”—are all that is needed. The musical duo have come a long way, both geographically and musically, since 1980 when they first started blending Mariam’s velvet vocals with the bluesy bass of Amadou’s guitar in their home city of Bamako. Since then they have produced several albums, one of which was nominated for a Grammy in 2012, and performed live in front of world leaders at the Nobel peace prize ceremony in 2009.

The country which they love and grew up in has also experienced change, but of a less positive nature. In 2012, rebel Tuareg forces seized northern Mali, imposing a religious ban on music that lasted a year. Some of Mali’s most popular festivals, vital to attracting international audiences and industry attention, were suspended amid security concerns and remain in limbo. Across the country, insurgent-led violence is a daily…Continue reading

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