Artist Discovery: Flavorpill and Amadou & Mariam

Once a week, between now and August 3rd, we’ll be posting features from a select group of the country’s best music bloggers in our Artist Discovery Series. From big name headliners to buzzworthy newcomers making a stir in the music world, they’ll be profiling their top pick for Lollapalooza 2012, giving you a closer look at the range of talent taking over Grant Park this summer. Today’s feature comes from Flavorpill’s Doug Levy. It’s been a long, inspired road for Malian husband and wife duo Amadou & Mariam. The pair, who have been married and playing music together for three decades now, met at an institute for blind youth — both have been sightless since they were children — where they forged a musical and personal bond that would last a lifetime. It wasn’t until 2004 that the duo really started to receive global attention, however, when they teamed up with Manu Chao to record Dimanche à Bamako, an album that was met with international acclaim for its crossover world-music appeal. The follow-up, 2008′s Welcome to Mali brought the two to an even wider audience, as they collaborated with artists including African music aficionado Damon Albarn and rising hip-hop star K’Naan. That same year saw them make their first appearance at Lollapalooza, and they went on to reach an ever-growing number of Western fans through opening stints at shows with such major acts as Blur, Coldplay, and U2. With praise only growing, the stage was set for what would be one of the most interesting projects of their career. Amadou & Mariam’s latest album, Folila (which translates simply as “music”), is a true global mashup, blending the pair’s trademark “Malian blues” and African sounds with collaborations from a host of modern Western music’s most innovative musicians. The record includes appearances from Santigold, Tunde and Kyp of TV on the Radio, Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears, and Theophilus London, among others. It’s arguably their best work to date, and the chance to see how it takes shape live makes Amadou & Mariam one of Lollapalooza 2012′s can’t-miss acts. Plus, with Santi also on the bill, we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see her make a guest appearance with the band for a live rendition of their fantastic “Dougou Badia.”