Friday, January 18, 2013

Music of Mali

 (Images from above:  Ali Farka Toure, Oumou Sangare, Amadou & Mariam)

Mali holds a special place in my heart.  Besides being an integral part of Proud Mary; the people, culture, and music are some of the most beautiful in the world.  Mali has been all over the news this week in regards to the islamist insurgency and the French entering the country to help the Malians regain control from these terrorist groups that have taken over the North of the country and last week began traveling South towards Bamako.  This breaks my heart but today instead of dwelling on the negative I want to celebrate Mali and all the beautiful things it brings to the world.  Mali is known for its textiles (so yummy!) and its music.  I didn't know a ton about Malian music before visiting their last year but I had heard of Amadou & Mariam and when in Bamako in late 2011 I got to see them play at a little club.  Magic indeed.  The Guardian wrote an awesome article yesterday about Mali's Magical Music. The article asked some influential artists who their favorite artists/tracks were from Magical Mali, some of my favorites...

Robert del Naja, Massive Attack: 
I first came across Amadou Bagayoko – the Amadou in Amadou and Mariam – when I arrived late in the Congo to join an Africa Express trip. He was like an oasis of calm amid the chaos, this super-cool dude playing incredible riffs on a beautiful gold guitar. I was meant to remix their track C'est Ne Pas Bon, but in typical Massive Attack style never got round to it. It is hard to think of another song more relevant to what is happening right now. It just seems so wrong that this couple come from a country where musicians are being persecuted when they are such ambassadors for all that is good and strong about Mali.

Johnny Marr, Former Smith/Modest Mouse guitarist:

I first heard Amadou and Mariam when I was in the band Modest Mouse and the drummer would play their first big record on the bus. It didn't surprise me that they crossed over to rock fans because there's a shared sensibility in the arrangements. I played with them at an Africa Express gig at Koko in London, and I suspect Amadou is a secret shredder – and nothing wrong with that. Put it this way: he's very into his riffs. He and I were sat in a hotel room on our own. Two electric guitars, not plugged in. Jamming. I know how to approach jamming with someone you've never met before: there's a feeling out of space, there's an appropriate way of making it happen ... and within 20 seconds he was saying: "Solo! Solo! ... Blow! Blow! Blow!" I was completely unencumbered by any electricity: there was no amplifier. I wasn't plugged into anything. And he wanted me to "blow" like Jimi Hendrix or someone. And I recognise a guitar dude when I hear one – and he's one.

 Angelique Kidjo, Benin Singer/Songwriter:
 "...African culture had unlimited depth and power and could also touch your heart like nothing you had heard before."

Take a listen. I promise you won't regret it!

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