Biography of Tartit

The Ensemble Tartit ("Tartit" means "union") are a band from the Tombouctou Region of Mali. The group comprised five women and four men, all of whom are members of the Tamasheq ethnic group (also known as Tuareg). They met in a refugee camp in Burkina Faso, where their music was a means of survival in the face of the economic, social and political difficulties of the region. In 1995, within months of their formation, Tartit performed their debut concert at the MASA Trade Fair for African Arts in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. In the same year they were invited to the Festival of Women's Voices in Liege, Belgium. Tartit toured Europe in 1998 and then in 2000 toured North America. At the WOMAD Festival in Seattle, after performing their own set, the group joined fellow Malians Ali Farka Touré and Afel Bocoum on stage. They also appeared at the Desert Music Festival, where they again played with Touré and Bocoum, and also joined Tinariwen, Robert Plant, Oumou Sangaré, Lo'Jo and Baba Salah. Tartit has collaborated with other musicians, such as Susan McKeown (on her album Sweet Liberty), and their songs have been included on compilations such as, Rèves d'Oasis: Desert Blues. Tartit released their first album, titled Amazagh, in 1997. They became better-known with the release of their second album, Ichchila, recorded in 2000. More recently, the group released their third album, Abacabok. Tartit's compositions include ballads and call-and-response. Their lyrics are expressions of hope, peace and expose the power of life. To contribute actively to the development of their region, the band also formed a United Nations-recognized association dedicated to preserving and raising awareness of Malian music and culture. The association, likewise, develops schools for children and economic opportunities for women. Most of Tartit's songs are simply structured. The female members of the band play the traditional instruments, imzad and tinde, and are supplemented by the teherdent ngoni and/or electric guitar played by the men. To these instruments are added chants and percussive handclaps. The result is a sort of desert blues.

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