Amadou & Mariam

Amadou & Mariam Tjè ni Muso

The recent history of music has been written on recycled paper, the quill dipped into resourcefulness ink. The adventures of the “Bembeya Jazz”, of the “Ambassadeurs du Motel” or of the Rail Band of Bamako are enough to fuel with ludicrous ingredients the episodes of an animist sit com in which the stars would be dishonest manager, venal marabou and piracy expert.

In such a hazardous situation, the route of Amadou and Mariam is silent and heroic. The first obstacle on their hard way was to make their parents accept their union. They met at the institute of young blind people of Bamako and their union was judged unreasonable because they were both blind.
At that time (under military dictatorship), he who wanted to be a musician and was really talented, was obliged to join orchestras in hotels where, in exchange of a state employee salary, he played for a clientele composed by the tops of the government and strangers to animate dance parties where people were gossiping and dancing Cuban.

Amadou Bagayoko learned to play the guitar in the band “Ambassadeurs du Motel” of Bamako, a polyvalent band which was later joined by Salif Keita. He improved his playing technique and mixed the different styles of music which led to the radiant Bamanan blues they display in their recent productions.

Mariam Doumbia sings by her own, sometimes with Amadou. When they decided to undertake a career together, the chance of achievement in Mali abounded so much that they decided to emigrate in Ivory Coast where the success came as a surprise.

Far away from their three children, they will realise some tapes produced by the Nigerian Aliyu Maïkano Adamu on which we can find the initial versions of “Dunia”, “A chacun son problème”, “Mon amour” and “Ma chérie” accompanied only with an acoustic guitar. These songs will appear again on the album “sou ni tile” which was released seven years later and shows that African music can be universal and accompanied with modern technologies. “Tjè Ni muso”, man and woman in Bambara (here husband and wife), add to the large spectre sound nuances, rhythmical inflexions and different perfumes of the world (Portuguese cavaquihino, Bengali violin, piano jazz).

Amadou and Mariam have the feeling to listen to their own music through the pop of the seventies: electrical blues, reggae, salsa…

Without planning it, man and woman bring back home these sounds which originated from the black continent. This opening to the world gives energy to West African music and this album illustrates perfectly the term “world music”.

Amadou and Mariam tell us with their own words the superiority of the harmonious over the discordant; the amusing paradox present in the songs of this Malian couple of blinds is that they can give back the sight to those who think that they already see.