SM PIER — Post-Olympics blues have you down?
Think about taking in tonight’s Twilight Concert Series at the Santa Monica Pier with Amadou & Mariam — the internationally acclaimed blind musical duo, who mix traditional Mali sound with rock guitars.
The innovative pair look forward to playing the gig.
“We hope that we will have a nice big crowd and that they will love and enjoy the show. Our music is about love and solidarity,” Mariam said. “We would like them to feel that our music is universal.”
Their upbeat world music blends intricate rhythms and a danceable beat and their show is sure to have the Santa Monica crowd rockin’ out.
Amadou and Mariam met at Mali’s Institute for the Young Blind, where they performed in the institute’s Eclipse Orchestra, directed by Idrissa Soumaouro, and found they shared an interest in music.
Their first album, “Sou Ni Tile” and its title track, “Je Pense a Toi,” was a hit in France selling 100,000 copies. The duo became inseparable and eventually married, continuing to play concerts while they gained a strong following. By 2003, world-Latin music star Manu Chao approached them to produce their 2004 album “Dimanche a Bamako,” and later in 2006 they recorded, together with Herbert Gronenmeyer, the official anthem for the 2006 FIFA World Cup that topped the German charts that June.
Since then, the couple has toured with Coldplay and U2 and jammed with musical greats David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) and Johnny Marr (The Smiths). They’ve played at the opening ceremonies of the last two World Cups, played major festivals in the U.S. including Coachella and Lollapalooza and had the honor of performing at a Nobel Peace Prize concert for President Barack Obama.
“We felt it was a big honor to play for President Obama and it was an amazing moment in our lives,” Amadou said. “To prepare for the event we tried to be ourselves and simple and be able to enjoy that moment.”
When they first started out, they never expected their music to be so widely recognized and loved by so many people.
“We knew that it would please people but not this huge level,” Amadou said.
Amadou & Mariam boldly break fresh ground, while preserving their instantly recognizable trademarks: the exquisite song craft, Amadou’s thrilling electric blues guitar and the magical interplay of their two voices, which first brought them popularity.
And as their celebrity has grown around the world, the scope and ambition of their music has grown with it. Amadou has often said that the invitation to share songs and ideas with other musicians and finding new ways of expression is the most exciting adventure any musician can undertake. And it is that sense of shared openness and collaborative opportunity which is at the heart of Amadou & Mariam’s new album, “Folila.”
The story of “Folila” — the word means music in Bambara — boasts three distinct chapters and is a tale of how two records became one.
“The original idea was to make two albums: a crossover record in New York City, where Amadou and Mariam have many musical friends and relationships and the other a more rootsy album recorded in Bamako with mostly African guests and African percussion instead of a drum kit,” said Marc-Antoine Moreau, the duo’s long-time manager and producer.
Both plans came to fruition, but when Amadou and Mariam listened back to the richness of the two sessions, a third way suggested itself: to combine the two recordings in a seamless, organic fashion. The result is “Folila,” a near-perfect example of how tradition and modernity can work together to generate creative forward movement, two parallel rails leading to a common musical destination.