Amadou & Mariam met in 1977 while attending the Institute for Young Blind in Bamako (where they continue to play an annual benefit concert). Influenced by the records of Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd as well as traditional African music, the couple began working as a duo in 1983 and their early recordings have since been remastered and reissued by Because Music on the box set ‘1990-1995: The Best of the African Years’. Their transition from world music stages to rock festival headliners came with 2005’s Manu Chao-produced ‘Dimanche à Bamako,’ one of the best-selling African albums of all time, winning a prestigious Les Victoires de la Musique award (the French equivalent of the Grammys) and two BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music.
In recent years, Amadou and Mariam have toured with Coldplay and U2 and jammed with musical heroes David Gilmour and Johnny Marr. They’ve performed at a Nobel Peace Prize concert in honour of Barack Obama, and played at the opening ceremonies of the last two FIFA world cups. Manu Chao and Damon Albarn have lent their production skills to their records and they have worked with some of the most innovative names in contemporary rock music via Albarn’s ‘Africa Express’ and other cross-cultural projects, such as ‘L’Afrik C’est Chic’.
And as their celebrity has grown around the world, the scope and ambition of their music has grown with it. Amadou has often said that the invitation to share songs and ideas with other musicians and find new ways of expression is the most exciting adventure any musician can undertake. And it is that sense of shared openness and collaborative opportunity, which is at the heart of Amadou & Mariam’s new album ‘Folila.’