Authors, Composers, Artists - Amadou and Mariam


"The fizziest afro-pop blues ever bottled" is how The Observer described Dimanche à Bamako (Sunday in Bamako), the latest album by Malian duo Amadou and Mariam. Released in France in November 2004, the CD went platinum, shot to number two in the charts - the highest position ever achieved in the European music charts by an African act - and won the prestigious Victoire de la Musique. Transcending ... (see full summary)


On inspiration and creativity

"Inspiration comes from different sources. It comes from something inside you, your personal history, and, for me, the history of my country, which has marked my own life story. A lot of other creative artists - especially those I listened to when I was young like Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder - have also influenced my work. French music has especially influenced my lyrics.

You can’t program creativity, it comes instinctively - a sudden idea. But there is nothing magical about it, everyone is gifted in different areas.

Mariam and myself sing to be together, to affirm our identities. Music is a passion. It is our life. We sing of freedom, love, peace and solidarity among people, and mostly of justice."

On the path to success

"We started performing a long time ago and success came bit by bit. At first, it was just playing with some friends, then it became a neighborhood group, then a professional orchestra, then building a career with Mariam in Côte d’Ivoire, then West Africa, then Europe. It took a long, long time. But we never gave up hope. It took courage to keep moving forward, to keep looking, to keep working.

It’s hard to get good recording facilities in Africa, and that makes it difficult for us as song-writers to get established in the music market place. That and, above all, the problem of distribution.

People like the fact that our music and our message are universal, and the simplicity of the lyrics. Our music is Bambara * inspired from n’goni [traditional lute] music, and it is influenced by rock and blues. This mix is the essence of our success. We met different people, we played and sang with Colombians, Syrians, who did different things to our music and who all helped to make it original."

On copyright

"It is logical that copyright follows creativity to defend the creator’s rights. Copyright is vital for us. We can’t survive just on what we are paid for giving concerts. We also need our rights to be protected. When we compose pieces we hope in return to benefit from the fruit of that work. Rights are what enable creators to earn a living and to carry on producing. Copyright is the lifeblood of the cultural industries.

I have some involvement in the management...

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