Whole Lotta Love

Global sensations Amadou and Mariam make Mali-style pop for the masses

Carsten Windhorst / Retna

Amadou plays rock-influenced guitar; Mariam's vocals add sweetness.

If the term world music gives you hives--and its condescension to musicians (lumping all non-Westerners into a single undifferentiated category) and consumers (writing off anyone who doesn't listen to it as implicitly narrow-minded) is really quite impressive--then grab an EpiPen before reading any further. For we are about to discuss Amadou and Mariam, the world-music stars who are not just a married, middle-aged couple from Mali but a blind, married, middle-aged couple from Mali. By description, they're worthier than the Grameen Bank.

The blind thing is certainly played for effect--just not the effect you might anticipate. Almost since their first meeting,...

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