Welcome to Mali

Studio Album by released in 2008

Welcome to Mali review

Amadou & Mariam: the family duo from Mali

Artists Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia were born in Bamako, the capital of the African country Mali. They got acquainted in the Mali's Institute For The Young Blind, when they both were sent their after they lost sight at different age. Both Mariam and Amadou played an important role in the cultural life of their school. Soon the students realized they had a common interest in music and stage performance. In 1980, Amadou and Mariam got married. Around the same time they decided to perform together. For about five years, the musicians sang in their native Mali, but around 1985 they headed to their first travel to Burkina Faso. After this event, they understood that they needed to leave their home state in order to move further in their career. At first, the duo moved to Cot d’Ivoir, where they recorded several cassettes and later their released the disc Sou Ni Tile in Paris. The album was a hit in France, the African blues and jazz by Amadou & Mariam with the elements of ethnical music was so highly appreciated by the Europeans that they immediately became known as “the blind couple from Mali”. A big role in the promotion of Amadou & Mariam in former years played Spanish performer Manu Chao, who was at his highlights at the moment. He also left his trace on the record Dimanche A Bamako, which saw light in 2004. In 2007, Amadou & Mariam supported Scissor Sisters. In 2008 they recorded a perfect long-play Welcome To Mali.

Widening of the musical horizon on Welcome To Mali

The duo Amadou & Mariam managed to widen their musical horizon on this work, staying faithful to their original sound, for which the artists are loved and famous all over the world. The disc is opened by the track Sabali, produced by Damon Albarn. The song is peculiar with the wonderful high0pitched vocals by Mariam, accompanied by the dark piano arrangement. The same producer put his hand to the arrangements of the minimalistic, electronica-driven track Ce N'est Pas Bon and the fascinating tune Magosa, where the drums sound together with the flutes and the clarinet. The following track is the fresh interpretation of the well known song by the artists Djama, which became the mix of reggae and dancehall. The low-tempo and memorable composition Djuru has the ear-pleasing sounds of guitar and kora – the African marimba. The funk track Je Te Kiffe was recorded by Amadou & Mariam along with French milti-instrumentalist and singer Juan Rozoff. The love song Africa features the leading vocals by rapper K’Naan. The artis was born in Somali and grew up in Toronto, Canada. Africa can be called the West Coast - East Coast collaboration in the African way. One more funk melody is the song Compagnon De La Vie, which Amadou wrote about his wife. The most striking composition of all on the disc Welcome To Mali can be called the song I Follow You, performed in English. Its lyrics, forced by the emotional vocals will touch even an iron heart.

A faithfully cosmopolite record

Although the disc Welcome To Mali is recorded by a couple of native Mali citizens, one should not forget that Amadou & Mariam made a long way to fame – geographically too. Their cosmopolite way of perception is well seen on the new full-length. On Welcome To Mali, one is sure to find the winding and hooking Afro-beats, ethnic instruments in the arrangements of the songs, the colorful African vocals by Amadou & Mariam and the blues-rock guitar. However, the same record has several international collaborations and the elements of such genres as disco, funk, reggae and others. Besides, all the record has a touch of piano play, while it is well known that keeping this instrument in a working state in Mali is a big problem. The union of Amadou and Miriam as a family also strikes imagination. They are a rare couple that managed to surpass the trial by fame and keep their involvement with each other and unity of the souls. That is why their love songs are the most touching numbers on the disc. Welcome To Mali also has the first try by Amadou to write lyrics in English, and his verses possess such qualities as plainness and sincerity. Thus Welcome To Mali became the first work by the artists, performed in three languages – their native Bambara, French and English. Mariam used the vocoder in several tracks, and hew voice sounds a-la electronica Cher’s vocals. However, this move did not kill the individuality of the album tunes. The unusual gifts of this band was also noticed in the USA, by its current president Barrack Obama – in 2009, Amadou & Mariam were invited to sing at his inauguration ceremony.