IFAM Kicks Off 10th Anniversary Festivities with Festival au Desert: Caravan for Peace Concert

Editor | - June 2, 2013

“It’s one of the few honest things I’ve been part of in a long, long time … it reminds me of why I sang in the first place.” —Robert Plant

The 10th Annual International Folk Art Market and ¡Globalquerque! proudly present world-renowned Malian musicians Mamadou Kelly, Tartit, and Imharhan. Coming direct from Europe, this show will kick off the Festival au Desert: Caravan for Peace U.S. tour.

Held in Mali for over a decade, The Festival au Desert has been canceled as a result of the civil war in that country. So in 2013, instead of bringing the world to Mali, they are bringing Mali to the world. From soulful Malian blues, to traditional trance-like nomadic music, to the intense, electric, modern sound of the Malian desert, this concert will be a stunning example of culture in motion, and an unforgettable opening for the 10th Annual International Folk Art Market.

Mamadou Kelly is a tour de force West African singer and guitarist, best known for his work with the world-famous Ali Farka Touré, one of Africa’s most legendary musicians. Mamadou’s music lives at the intersection of traditional Malian music and the American blues, a tradition that Martin Scorsese famously called “the DNA of the blues.” The dynamic combination of nomadic Saharan sounds, Malian Delta blues, and electric guitars has earned Mr. Kelly a devoted global fan base and makes this a must-see performance.

Tartit (Tuareg for “union”) is a legendary Tuareg group from Timbuktu, Mali. Led by singer Fadimata Walett Oumar, better known as “Disco,”

Tartit uses traditional acoustic Malian instruments to play gorgeous trancelike music derived from the centuries-old songs and poems of Saharan nomadic tribes.

Imharhan catapults the music of Tartit into the 21st century. Led by Disco’s brother, Mohammed Issa (a.k.a. Imharhan), this group brings modern electric sounds and instruments to traditional Tuareg music, creating a dynamic, driving, and irresistible desert blues sound.

The Festival au Desert is an annual concert held in Mali, usually in the Sahara Desert. Begun in 2001, the Festival is a dynamic meeting place of traditional nomadic Malian music and emerging musical groups and styles from around Africa and Europe. The festival itself was a natural outgrowth from a traditional peaceful meeting of nomadic Saharan tribes from Algeria to Niger, with songs and Tuareg dances, poetry, camel rides, and games. African luminaries such as Ali Farka Touré performed with European artists like Bono and Robert Plant in one of the most unique and celebrated cultural events in the world. Sadly, the 2013 Festival was canceled as a result of civil war in Mali and the brutal imposition of Sharia law by Islamic extremists, which outlawed music and sent these incredible artists into exile.

The Caravan for Peace is a response to this violence. Refusing to give in to intolerance, organizers decided that if they couldn’t bring the world to Mali, they would bring Mali to the world. The Caravan for Peace is a nomadic world tour to promote peace, tolerance, and understanding and spread the remarkable sounds that have been born over the past several decades in the West African desert.

Festival organizers have said, “It is an attack on our collective memory, and all that unites [us]… We do not want to nor can we allow ourselves to become resigned because safeguarding the values of the Festival, i.e. those of peace and tolerance, now more than ever has become an absolute emergency. This is the message we want to pass among ourselves first and then to others throughout the rest of the world who share with us the same values. The brute sound of weapons and the cries of intolerance are not able to silence the singing of the griots or the sound of the Imzad (violin) and the Tinde (drum).”

The Caravan for Peace concert is on Wednesday, July 10, 7:30 p.m. at The Lensic in Santa Fe. Tickets can be bought through The Lensic Box Office, (505) 988-1234, or online at More information can be found at Tickets go on sale May 1, 2013. Prices range from $25 to $40. Seating is limited!

The International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe is a results-oriented entrepreneurial 501(c)3 organization that provides a venue for master traditional artists to display, demonstrate, and sell their work. By providing opportunities for folk artists to succeed in the global marketplace, the Market creates economic empowerment and improves the quality of life in communities where folk artists live.

¡Globalquerque!—New Mexico’s Annual Celebration of World Music and Culture—takes over the entire campus of the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque every September. Presenting the best international performers alongside groups representing local and regional culture, ¡Globalquerque! brings the world to New Mexico while showing what New Mexico has to offer the world. For more information, visit