Hometown: Azawad, Mali
Day Gig: Toureg Rebels, Grammy, BBC and Praetorius Award Winners
Night Gig: International World Music Ambassadors
Environmental Concern: Desert
Calling themselves “poet-guitarists and soul rebels from the Southern Sahara desert,” Tinariwen’s members began playing music together in the 1980s in and around the town of Tamanrasset in southern Algeria. They spent several years in the same military training camp in Libya before the Touareg rebellion broke out simultaneously in Mali and Niger and sent them out to battle in the southern Sahara.
Their name means “deserts” or “empty spaces,” and their fifth album, Tassili, was fittingly recorded in a Mauritanian tent the deserts of southern Algeria, near the town of Djane. It won the Grammy Award for Best World Music Album in 2011. Their other albums include The Radio Tisdas Sessions (2001), Amassakoul (2004), Aman Iman (2007) and Imidiwan (2009).
In his Guardian review of Tassili, world and folk critic Robin Denselow says Tinariwen is “a brilliant live band who have deservedly built up an international following for their infectious, pounding fusion of desert blues and the styles of the nomadic Tuareg people of the Sahara.”