Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Track of the Week

Amadou and Mariam – Sabali

This week’s track you have possibly heard before, or it at least should sound familiar. With its modern beat and synthesised elements it appears more akin to contemporary Western music, no doubt resulting from the influence of the track’s producer Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz).

But this is Amadou and Mariam’s greatest strength; they have a knack for remaining profoundly modern and in touch. The pair met in 1975 at Mali’s Institute for Young Blind People and have been producing music ever since. Both Amadou and Mariam were born in the 1950s, and by the time they met had both lost their sight. They began making music immediately.

Soon after they began recording and releasing music in Europe in the mid 1990s they found fame, success and themselves collaborating with some of the world’s most prestigious and forefront musical artists. According to their Wikipedia page they co-wrote the 2006 FIFA World Cup song (entitled “Celebrate The Day”) which topped the German charts and performed in an internationally-broadcast concert kick-starting the 2010’s World Cup, hosted in South Africa, alongside Alicia Keys, John Legend, Tinariwen and Shakira in front of 80 000 people and hundreds of millions of TV viewers.

They have won a whole host of awards and unlike some other African artists they have been highly successful in many African, North American, and European countries. Perhaps their artistic desire to write songs in many different African and European languages has something to do with it.

This week’s track “Sabali” epitomises much of the above. Its is exciting and catchy in its own right, building into the idea that while Malian music is a place to be reflective, like last weeks track,  it can be equally contemporary, youthful and animated.

Amadou & Mariam – Sabali

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