Amadou & Mariam - Le Couple Aveugle du Mali
Near the end of the '60s, Amadou Bagayoko worked as a guitarist in the Ambassadeurs du Motel de Bamako, a versatile group later joined by Salif Keita. The guitarist met vocalist Mariam Doumbia at the Institute for Young Blind People in Bamako, the capital of Mali. Upon working together (not to mention marrying and having three children), the duo traveled across Africa from Burkina Faso to the Ivory Coast in 1988, where they produced five cassettes produced by the Nigerian Aliyu Maikano Adamu. Their fame spread throughout Western Africa, where they became known as Amadou et Mariam, Le Couple Aveugle du Mali. Further travels to England and an extended stay in Paris in 1995 exposed the blind vocalists to American blues, Cuban son, Indian rhythms, and French folk music. In the late '90s, Sonodisc and Polydor began releasing new recordings by Amadou & Mariam, as well as remastering and compiling songs from their earlier cassettes. The duo gained worldwide exposure as featured performers on 2000's Putumayo collection, Mali to Memphis. In 2003 they released Wati, a funky electric guitar and keyboard driven collection of roots music that showed a more contemporary approach to their craft. Dimanche a Bamako followed in 2005. Produced by worldbeat giant Manu Chao, its soulful, reggae-tinged percussion and crisp, light production made it one of the best world music records of the year.