Center For Arts & Equity

Les Filles de Illighadad

Tende, traditional music from Niger. Fatou Seidi Ghali, voice/ guitar; Alamnou Akrouni, voice/ kalabasa; Mariama Salah Assouan, voice/ dance; Ahmoudou Madassane, and voice/ guitar. Les Filles de Illighadad hail from a secluded commune in central Niger, far off in the scrub land deserts at the edge of the Sahara. Their village has little infrastructure, no electricity nor running water. But what this nomadic zone lacks in material wealth, it makes up for in strong identity and tradition. The surrounding countryside supports hundreds of pastoral families, living with and among their herds, as their families have for centuries.

Fatou Seidi Ghali, lead vocalist and performer of Les Filles de Illighadad, is one of the only Tuareg female guitarists in Niger. Sneaking away with her older brother’s guitar, she taught herself to play. In a place where gender norms have created two divergent styles of music, Fatou and Les Filles de Illighadad are reasserting the role of tende in Tuareg guitar. In lieu of the djembe or the drum kit, Les Filles de Illighadad incorporates the traditional drum and the calabash, half buried in water.  The forgotten inspiration of Tuareg guitar, these women are reclaiming its importance in the genre and reclaiming the music of tende.

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