Ambassadors Against Hunger
More than a decade after shooting to international stardom, Malian singers Amadou Bagayako and Mariam Doumbia -- better known as Amadou & Mariam -- remain among Africa's most stirring and popular musicians.
The blind couple first met at Bamako's Institute for the Young Blind in 1976 and quickly found they shared a passion for music. By 1985, Amadou & Mariam had made a name for themselves locally, playing blues with heavy Malian influences.
After moving to Paris, the pair recorded the album Sou Ni Tile in 1998, which became an instant hit in France and marked the launch of their international musical career. A bigger break came in 2004, when world music star Manu Chao produced their album Dimanche a Bamako, which captured that year's BBC Best World Music Album Award.
Since then, Amadou & Mariam have collaborated with German star Herbert Gronemeyer, the Scissor Sisters, Coldplay and Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. Their most recent album, Welcome to Mali (2008), includes hit song "Sabali," ranked 15 on Pitchfork's Top 100 Best Tracks of 2008.
Recent notable performances include singing the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony for United States President Barack Obama and at the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony in South Africa last year.
Their Malian background gives Amadou & Mariam a special insight into the hunger and food insecurity plaguing the world's poorest people. Indeed, the Paris-based couple is committed to using their music and high profile to spotlight efforts to help the needy by the World Food Programme and other institutions, notably the European Union.And since their music appeals to fans in both rich and poor nations, it provides a powerful vehicle to raise awareness.
The couple began their celebrity partnership with WFP in May 2006, supporting the Walk the World event. They also developed a WFP school feeding partnership in two specialized institutes for blind or visually impaired children in Bamako and Gao, Mali.
Amadou & Mariam have also given a number of benefit concerts, including in Paris (2007) for the INGO-WFP-FAO coalition “Together Against Hunger” and at the 2008 Paris-Bamako music festival on behalf of WFP.
As WFP Ambassadors Against Hunger for the European Union, Amadou & Mariam want to spread the word to Europeans about how hunger affects millions across the world and about WFP and EU efforts to help eradicate it. In 2011 they travelled to Haiti to visit WFP programmes there and wrote a song about their mission as ambassadors, Labendela. They made the video you can see at the top right of this page.