From The Sahara To Stuart’s

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The Kel Tamashek (or those who speak Tamashek, the language of the Tuareg) are a nomadic people who have often been at odds with the Malian governments repressive policies.

Tinariwen (which roughly translates to "The Desert Boys") is a Malian musical collective, founded by Ibrahim Ag Alhabib in the late 1970s and is comprised of former Tuareg freedom fighters that formed in a desert rebel camp.

In 1994, after a rebellion broke out in the desert, peace was signed with the government, and the rebels put down their guns and returned to their homeland. 

Tinariwen's political songs became a rallying cry for a people who had long suffered from discrimination, neglect, years of drought and a changing culture.

Ag Alhabib sings in a song about the 1963 uprising that claimed the the life of his father:

'63 has gone but will return. Those days have left their traces.

'63 has gone but will return. Those days have left their traces.

They murder the old folk and a child just born. It came down to the pastures and killed all the cattle.

'63 has gone but will return. Those days have left their traces.

Much has been made of the band's roots in the camps and their exile as freedom fighters in Libya and Algeria.

Besides being politicized and trained as fighters and activists, they became exposed to a vast array of other musical styles outside the Tuareg tradition, from Moroccan protest music, Arabic pop tunes and Algerian ray to western artists like Hendrix, Santana, Bob Marley, Dire Straits and Led Zeppelin. 

Since 2001, their reputation and following has slowly grown from the Saharan region to International acclaim. Today, they are North Africa's biggest rock band and World Music giants.

Many of the artists that originally inspired the members of Tinariwen, like Carlos Santana and Robert Plant, have become their fans and advocates.

Tinariwen received the BBC Award for World Music in 2005 and Tassili, their fifth album, won a Grammy for the Best World Music release of 2011.

That album was a departure from the trance-like, electric guitar-driven sound that they established on their earlier recordings.  

After achieving global recognition and rock star status, and in attempt to reconnect with their roots, the band put aside the electric guitars and amplified drums and recorded the tracks in a tent in the Sahara.

The toned-down acoustic approach, coupled with intriguing guest performances by members of TV on the Radio, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Wilco, added another dimension to Tinariwen's aural palette.

With all the universal recognition and critical accolades that the band has garnered in the past few years, Tinariwen refuses to stray from the spirit and commitment to their people, their heritage and their environment that brought them together years ago in those desert camps.

Tinariwen will perform at Stuart's Opera House on Thursday, Oct. 25t at 8 p.m. This Show is presented by Stuart's, Arts for Ohio, Ohio University African Studies and the Ohio University Performing Arts Series.