From Birmingham to Bamako: Amadou + Mariam and The Blind Boys of Alabama
THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA are recognized worldwide as living legends of gospel music. Celebrated by The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) with Lifetime Achievement Awards, inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and winners of five Grammy® Awards, they have attained the highest levels of achievement in a career that spans over 70 years. The Blind Boys are known for crossing multiple musical boundaries with their remarkable interpretations of everything from traditional gospel favorites to contemporary spiritual material by songwriters such as Eric Clapton, Prince and Tom Waits. They have appeared on recordings with many artists, including Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville, Susan Tedeschi, Ben Harper, Patty Griffin and Taj Mahal.
For the past forty-odd years, AMADOU & MARIAM have managed to joyfully combine their love story with a musical career while becoming, discreetly but surely, the most famous ambassadors for Malian music, and African music, all around the world; a golden status that they carry with brio and playfully challenge with each new album. Amadou & Mariam have collaborated with many different people and worked with producers that seem far removed from their universe, like Damon Albarn of Blur or Manu Chao. They have invited the best artists who are building tomorrow’s pop music to play on their naïve and lively songs (Santigold, TV On The Radio, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and have had their tracks remixed by Yuksek, Vitalic, Henrik Schwarz, Miike Snow and Ashley Beedle, leading the songs to the dance floor and underlining their intrinsically danceable quality. They’ve played the world’s biggest festivals, from Coachella to Glastonbury, and opened for huge bands such as Coldplay and the Scissor Sisters. By enriching their Afro-pop with new pigments, by introducing to the world the richness and subtleties of African music, the duo has brought African music to the charts and to the dance floor. They’ve inspired many artists to mix Afro and electro sounds, such as MHD, DJ Mujava, Awesome Tapes From Africa, Four Tet or Jamie xx. This is proof that, if in the 80s certain crazy minds had fantasies of a Sono Mondiale, Amadou & Mariam are the ones who have made it a reality.