The Diaspora through Music: Trans-Atlantic Collaborations
Amadou and Mariam (Mali) and Manu Chao (French-with Spanish Roots).
RFI Musique: When did you first discover the work of Amadou & Mariam?
Manu Chao: I remember I was driving on the ringroad round Paris with the car radio on. And all of a sudden this song just burst out and grabbed my attention. I was instantly hooked! I didn’t know who the song was by when I first heard it, but as soon as I got to my friends’ place I sang it to them and asked them who’d recorded it. “Oh everyone knows that,” they said, “It’s Amadou & Mariam!” But the thing is I’d been living in Spain at the time and their music never made the airwaves over there. French people had heard of Amadou & Mariam, of course, because of the hit they had in France with Je pense à toi, ma chérie, mon amour. As I said I was instantly hooked on their music. I was a total fan from the word go and rushed out and bought all their CDs. Amadou & Mariam were my big thing for the next year or two, in fact. Every day I’d put their records on at home and when I started singing along I’d add to them. All these ideas for melodies and backing vocals came into my head. It became a little game I played every day