One of the many performances at the Sydney Festival this year is a series of concerts by Malian duo Amadou and Mariam. Titled Eclipse the concert is performed in pitch darkness giving the audience insight into how Amadou and Mariam experience their own music. The concert tells the story of how Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia met as teenagers at the Bamako Institute for the Young Blind in the early 1970s, formed a band, got married, had children and became Grammy award winning artists. Amadou lost his sight at the age of 16 and Mariam at the age of 5, due to untreated measles.
So, something completely different then as most concerts have elaborate stage performances to enhance the music. This was like putting on some headphones and listening to your favourite album in your bedroom which just happened to be filled with a few hundred people. That you could not see, but could hear breathing and shuffling in their seats to the music.
The music is a mixture of afro pop and blues with great vocals and an infectious beat that will get you up and dancing. I first saw them at the Blues and Roots Festival in Byron Bay in the mid 2000s. Last year I really got into their 2004 album Dimanche à Bamako (Sunday in Bamako) produced by world-Latin star Manu Chao. It is an infectious album invoking the sights and sounds of the West African city. Their eighth album Folila was released on 2 April 2012. Folia means music in Bambara and it features special guests such as Santigold, TV On The Radio and Bertrant Cantat. Here is a selection of their music.
Dimanche à Bamako
Welcome to Mali