Tinariwen, gifted Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali, are magical. I first saw them performing at the Paradise Rock Club in 2012, and was entranced. In 2014, they released Emmaar, a remarkable album. They’re back with a new recording this year, just released, called Live in Paris. It’s a documentation of one of their haunting live performances, made even more special thanks to their guest vocalist, the legendary Lalla Badi. Just on their own, Tinariwen is something very special. With this incredible fellow Tuareg musician, “grand dame” of Tamasheq culture and revered tindé master, the music is elevated to an even more reverent, sacred state. Tindé is both an instrument (a mortar covered with taut goatskin) played only by women and a special poetic repertoire that is sung during ceremonies and special occasions. The result of this pairing of extraordinary musicians is completely mesmerizing.

The concert took place on December 13, 2014 in Paris. This spellbinding musical prayer spoken by guitar and tindé is not typically heard by an audience outside of Malian culture. It is usually the type of music one only experiences while sitting around a fire in the southern Algerian desert or at a private home in northern Mali. Lalla Badi’s presence speaks of the strength and freedom of Tuareg women, and the music brings together vastly different cultures in spiritual communion.

This wonderful recording is more than just a celebration of the music. In the 1970s, Lalla Badi because a guiding force and mentor to the Tuareg people, both because of her commitment to their cause and her mastery of this musical tradition. As the Tuareg left northern Mali, fleeing droughts and repression and migrating to Libya to find a better life for themselves, she took in the ishumars (unemployed vagrants). It was in Algeria, during their long journey, that she became like a mother to them, like a sister and most certainly a shining beacon illuminating the way toward their future. It was at this time that founding members of Tinariwen Ibrahim ag Alhabib, Hassan ag Touhami and Abdallah Ag Alhousseyni began playing guitar and creating their own unique style of performance. This concert was an enticing merging of old and new.

Experience the magic of these old, old souls.

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