By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
Leaves on trees shifted listlessly from the rather warm winds on Saturday evening as a capacity crowd at the Alliance Française waited intently for Malian music couple Amadou and Mariam to appear on stage.
The crowd, which included several Malians resident in Accra, applauded and cheered as the pair, whose CD “Welcome to Mali” was once nominated for a Grammy Award, were ushered onto the stage by their guides.
The visually impaired couple immediately went into their own world as Amadou’s unique and robust guitar lines alongside Mariam’s expressive voice filled the air, while a burly percussionist enhanced sounds emanating from the stage with wild rhythms from a variety of drums.
“Seeing Amadou and Mariam perform live in Accra was a blessing. Performing for such a huge crowd they cannot see but definitely feel is worthy of note. It demonstrates once again that African music is alive and carries a message of freedom and emancipation”, said Federico Masetti, Italian Founder / CEO of MusicXchange.
“They are absolutely pleasurable – indeed, they shared a lot of jokes and anecdotes about Mali as they entertained the huge crowd. In the process, the audience simply fell in love with them”, added Jacques Monteau, a teacher in Paris, France.
With both musicians being powerful songwriters, their sympathetic and stimulating lyrics caught the attention of French speaking members of the audience, who reacted with cheers and catcalls while jumping to the dance floor to showcase their skills.
A cool blend of Bambara rhythms alongside inflections of R & B alongside world music sent the audience on a journey into the past that traced the career of Amadou and Mariam and their various collaborations with diverse musicians in Africa and beyond.
In 1998, the couple released their first album “Sou Ni Tile” and continued with a series of releases that highlighted their early work (both together and solo) before coming out with another album titled “Wati”.
In 2003, world music luminary Manu Chao began to work with the couple and in 2004 Amadou and Mariam emerged from the studio with what was to be their landmark album, “Dimanche à Bamako”. The success of the album led to tours, awards and accolades from several countries in Europe and Africa.