- Title: VARIOUS: Blind musicians Amadou and Mariam make their latest album
- Date: 2nd May 2000
- Summary: (REUTERS) SCU (SOUNDBITE) (French) LAURENT GRIFFON, Bassist "It's really great. Everyone is free to bring their own vision to the music. This whole mix allows us to get it together really easily and quickly. It works really well."
- Embargoed: 17th May 2000 13:00
- Location: VARIOUS LOCATIONS MALI AND FRANCE
- Country: France
- Reuters ID: LVAEJ5MMQZJEZ1WTSW5G1C6GKB35
- Story Text: They call them the blind couple.Mali-born musicians Amadou and Mariam both lost their sight when they were children.Years later they found each other, love and a shared passion for music.After two successful albums, their new single "I'm thinking of you" is likely to impress fans all over the world.
This video clip from the song "I'm Thinking Of You"
marks the latest step on a remarkable journey for Mali's Amadou and Mariam.
At home in Mali - they call them the blind couple.
Both lost their sight as children - but found each other, love and a shared passion for music.
Amadou says "We get our strength from sharing the same passions.We love music and it's music that brought us together.We complement each other and we love each other.We live together."
Africa Journal caught up with them in Paris - the latest stop on a successful European tour.
Mariam lost her sight as a 5 year old - after a severe, and untreated, bout of measles.
Amadou lost his sight to cataracts at age 15.
They met in Bamako at an institute for young blind people - the start of a personal odyssey shaped by music.
With the loss of their sight - Amadou and Mariam relied on their ears to experience the world outside - and what they were hearing blew them away.
Amadou says "We loved listening to music from overseas - American blues and some of the big English stars: Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix.From there we found our own style - bambara - which has links with that music.When we got to France we were finally able to do what we had always wanted to."
In their native Mali - the musical talent is rich and varied - but recording facilities are almost non-existent.
So to pursue their dream Mariam and Amadou left Bamako - and their three children - for the Ivory Coast.
Far from home, and without their children, the couples' music turned melancholy - calling on the strongest influences of the American blues.
A Nigerian producer heard what they were doing - and recorded a demo cassette which was to be the launch-pad for their success.
They took the demo back to Mali - where they met a French producer who whisked them to Paris - and the big time.
Two successful albums later - and this couple now has the pick of the studios - and of the top studio musicians to help them out.
Bassist Laurent Griffon says "It's really great.
Everyone is free to bring their own vision to the music.This whole mix allows us to get it together really easily and quickly.It works really well."
Their music appeals on so many levels - the influences are so varied - yet the final product seems greater than the sum of its parts.
It's a musical and cultural kaleidoscope that people seem to love.
Senegalese Journalist Jean Pierre Seck says "I really like the voices - they're beautiful.There's the mix of styles as well.This latest album is different from the first one with salsa and rock influences which work well."
Film Maker Marie Jaoul de Poncheville says "It's the simplicity of what they say about every day life and simple feelings.Their personal joy comes through in the music."
"We have chosen this message of love, liberty, justice, understanding and peace.We want to bring people together, show them how to get along, how to work hand-in hand."
Amadou and Mariam are pretty good role models in this regard - overcoming the trials and tribulations of a life lived in darkness - succeeding through determination, passion and their undying love.
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