Last night I attended Amadou & Miriam’s 3-day concert (15th-17th) at the New Century Hall in Manchester. For those who don’t know, Amadou and Miriam are this musical duo from Bamako, Mali who have great chemistry.
They met at Mali’s Institute for the Young Blind in 1977 where they discovered their mutual interest in music. They fell in love and got married in 1980 and began making music together. They have continued to show that being blind has not at any point in their career been an obstacle.
The concert was amazing. It was a sort of narrative concert; the songs performed told their individual stories, as well as their story as a couple; how they met, how their music career kicked off and where they are now. Each song began with an introductory voiceover from a voice I suspected was Amadou’s. The concert was different from the other concerts I have attended. Most of the songs were performed in the dark. I was a bit sad about that and all I kept thinking was “I’ve travelled all the way down and I don’t get to see their faces???”. But my face lit up when the lights suddenly came on while they were performing the last song.
From touring with Coldplay to meeting David Gilmour, and collaborating with other artistes such as Keziah Jones and K’naan, Amadou and Mariam have come a long way, especially since the release of their best selling albums, ‘Dimanche a Bamako’ and ‘Welcome to Mali’. For those who remember Nas and Damien Marley’s ‘Distant relatives’ album, you probably know the song, ‘Patience’ off the album. The vocals used in the song were sampled from Amadou & Mariam’s ‘Sabali’. The vocals used in rapper Wale’s song ‘Umricka’ in which he featured K’naan, were also sampled from one of Amadou & Miriam’s songs, titled ‘Ce n’est pas bon’.
Their music is made by combining traditional sounds from Mali with the couple’s voices, Amadou’s electric guitar and few other instruments. Most of their songs are sung in French and their language, Bambara, while some are a mix of French and English and others, Bambara and English. I’ve met a couple of Amadou and Mariam fans who have said they don’t know what some of their songs mean but that that hasn’t stopped them from being huge fans as they believe that one does not have to speak the same language as the singer to appreciate the music and this, I completely agree with!
Here are two of their songs. Enjoy.