Wednesday, August 1, 2012

amadou and mariam.

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Amadou is led on stage and his guitar is placed over his shoulders by a man with a black beret and all black outfit.  He places one hand on the body of the guitar and the other on the neck, finding his place on his instrument before securing his place in front of the microphone.  Mariam is similarly led on stage, her large, gold jewelry catching the strobing theater lights and her deep red bazin outfit heavily embroidered with gold thread shimmering.  Both wear sunglasses as they likely do most of the time since they are blind.  "Do you feel alright?  Are you OK?"  Amadou shouts into his microphone.  "Yeahhhhh!!!" the crowd shouts back.  "Let's go!"

After passing through security at the 9:30 Club, I follow the crowd of people into the club area and take a spot on the dance floor next to Cassie.  Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) from Mali and fellow World Resources Institute employees mill around (among the hundreds of other people not in those two groups :) and we call out to one another - hey!  It's been awhile!  Some folks are decked out in full Mali outfits - others with just a bit of jewelry flair or a tailor-made wax-print shirt.  Everyone is excited for the show to begin as Amadou and Mariam kick off the US leg of their summer tour.  Drinks in hand, the lights dim to black and the stage lights switch on.  Like most concerts the crowd goes wild and the show is on. 

Amadou and Mariam are a couple from Mali who have been singing together since 1983 (check out their facebook page - their 'cover' picture is like Abdoulaye's and my photo at the top of this page :).  They were sweet live (I'd never seen them perform) and the nearly sold-out house couldn't get enough of their Mali charm.  Cheick Hamala Diabate made an appearance on stage to shower the band with dollar bills (I don't know the background of this or what the official protocol is surrounding it, but often in Mali, especially in Bamako, you throw money on performers to show your support) and the women who led Mariam onstage carried Mariam's pocketbook with her at all times - a very Malian thing to do (not letting your pocketbook just sit somewhere whereas I feel like in the US women would throw their bag on a chair and not worry about it).  All in all - a great evening where I heard some rockin' tunes and reconnected with a number of Mali RPCVs and friends past and present.

Cassie and I remarked that while it was awesome to be at the show, it also made us miss Mali more than we already do.  Good to have reminders like tonight of the reasons why Mali is so wonderful and to be surrounded by a room full of people with varying degrees of attachment to a country we called home (and still do, really) for so long.  So do I feel alright?  Do I feel OK?  I'm not bad - bassi te yan.  No problems here.

I love the remix of this song, seen in the video below.  What do you think?


  1. oh i am so jealous! i love amadou and mariam. je pense a toi is a favorite song. im glad that you enjoyed the show!

  2. Can't wait to hear more about your European adventure cherie! Thanks for reading :)


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