Amadou & Mariam

Amadou Bagayoko and Mariam Doumbia met each other at the Bamako Institute of the Young Blind. Both turned blind when they were young, Mariam when she was only five years old, Amadou at age of 16. After some time, Amadou realised that, without Mariam being around, his life was senseless. So he asked her to stay with him forever, which she accepted. Both played in the band of the Blind Institute, the Eclipse Orchestra led by Idrissa Soumaoro. Amadou also played guitar in Les Ambassadeurs. They married in 1980.

In 1986, Amadou and Mariam went to Abidjan, and from 1989 on, they recorded five cassettes in Abidjan. All cassettes achieved a huge success, especially in Mali. Their songs are very accessible, sung by both Amadou and Mariam. The lyrics are mostly in Bambara, although some songs are in French, addressing popular themes and current problems in Malian society. On the first two cassettes, the singing of Amadou and Mariam is just accompanied by Amadou's guitar, on later volumes, more instruments were added.

Their first CD « Sou ni Tile » has been recorded in Europe, with some new songs and others already published on one of the cassettes. One song of that album, « Je pense à toi », has made them known among a much larger audience and sold 100,000 copies in France. Since then, a compilation of older songs (the CD « Se Te Djon Ye ») and new recordings were released on a regular basis.

As on « Sou ni Tile », later albums were characterised by the same combination of bambara melodies and rhythms with instruments and influences from outside of Mali. For their 2004 album, Amadou and Mariam worked with Manu Chao who left a strong imprint on the album. It brought them two BBC Radio 3 Awards and a platinum disc in France.
Amadou and Mariam always welcomed other musicians for featurings, among many others there were Tiken Jah Fakoly on « Politic amagni », and on their 2012 album « Folila » they worked with Santigold and Bertrand Cantat, known as the singer of Noir Désir.

Amadou & Mariam
  Amadou & Mariam (picture : Jérôme)

Born: Amadou was born 24 October 1954, Mariam 15 April 1958, both in Bamako
Style: Mali blues

Title Year Label Remarks
La Confusion 2017 Because Music
Folila 2012 Because Music
The Magic Couple 2009 Wrasse Records WRASS244 The Best of 1997-2002
Welcome to Mali 2008 Because Records
Paris Bamako 2005 Because Records DVD & CD live
1990-1995: L'intégrale des années maliennes 2005 Because Records 5CD box
Je pense à toi (longbox) 2005 Emarcy 3CD longbox
1990-1995: le meilleur des années maliennes 2005 Because Records Compilation of songs recorded in Africa
Je pense à toi 2005 Emarcy Best of compilation CD
Dimanche à Bamako 2004 Because Records Album produced by Manu Chao
Wati 2002 Universal Music Jazz
Tje Ni Mousso 1999 Verve
Se Te Djon Ye 1998 Sonodisc CDS 7044
Sou ni Tilé 1998 Emarcy 557118-2 (Polygram)
Couple Aveugle du Mali, vol.5 1993 Maikano MAILPS 1073 Cassette
Couple Aveugle du Mali, vol.4 1992 Maikano MAILPS 1053 Cassette
Couple Aveugle du Mali, vol.3 1991 Maikano MAILPS 1051 Cassette
Couple Aveugle du Mali, vol.2 1990 Maikano MAILPS 1048 Cassette
Couple Aveugle du Mali, vol.1 1989 Maikano MAILPS 1047 Cassette

Page added August 1998