The wide expanse of the Saharan Desert provides a 'hotbed' of musical activity for one of the today's best world music artists. The group is called Tinariwen. Tinariwen is a band that was formed in a Libyan rebel camp in 1982. Tinariwen, which means 'empty places', performs modern, electric-guitar driven music known as tishoumaren, also known as, 'music of the unemployed'. The music is similar to North American blues, but it is uniquely their own and a first of it's kind for modern music in Mali. Tinariwen perform traditional music with electric guitars and traditional instrumentation with soaring vocals. All the songs are sung in their native Tamashek language. All of the band members participate in singing to some extent. The band members include Ibrahim Ag Alhabib (guitar), Alhousseini Abdoulahi (guitar), Alhassane Touhami (guitar/percussion), Eyadou Ag Leche (guitar), Elaga Ag Hamid (guitar), Said Ag Ayad (percussion) and Mina Wallet Oumar (percussion).Tinariwen released their first album, The Radio Tisdas Sessions, in 2000, with high acclaim from global music critics. The follow-up album, Amassakoul, in 2004, secured their spot in the global music scene with intriguing and revolutionary guitar music from the Saharan Desert. In addition, Amassakoul has won world music awards, remains as one of the top fifty African music cds deemed essential by Songlines magazine and also went to number one on the European World Music Radio Play Charts. I contacted their manager, Andy Morgan, to relay my questions to Tinariwen in May 2005. In June 2005, I received my responses from an interview with Tinariwen discussing their humble beginnings, their music, Westernization, book/film releases and the possibility of a third album in the works.
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