In 1964, the Cuban government invited ten young musicians from Mali to study in Havana. The early Sixties was a period of «Communist» friendships between the Africa of independence and the revolutionary Cuba of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. And in the middle of the Cold War, these young people spent seven years studying music in Cuba, marking the beginning of an adventure for Las Maravillas de Mali, the only group singing in Spanish, Bambara and French. They didn’t know it then, but they would define the first broad outlines of what is today called World Music.
Those young musicians symbolized the fraternal relationship that existed between an Africa steeped in socialist hopes and ambitions, and a Cuba still filled with the euphoria that followed Castro’s take-over. Those close ties became even more tangible when the group recorded its only album… and it included a song that became one of the greatest hits in that revolutionary era: Rendez-Vous Chez Fatimata. Combining Cuban influences with traditional Malian sounds, not only did the song bring all of Africa dancing to its feet: it also deeply marked the history of both African and Latin music.
In 1999, the French producer Richard Minier learned of the story and decided on the renaissance of Las Maravillas de Mali. Together, Minier and the group’s remaining survivor, Boncana Maïga, retraced the group’s steps and went to Havana on several occasions, re-recording new versions of the album’s songs in the same surroundings as before, the legendary Egrem studios.
A digital EP: Rendez-Vous Chez Fatimata — it includes the original version of the title, together with 4 new versions of the hit featuring Mory Kanté, Inna Modja and Aron Ottignon — is to be released by Decca/Universal in the spring of 2018.
A tour: Las Maravillas de Mali will also be presented on stage for the first time in summer 2018. The tour is a coproduction between 3D Family and Olympia Production.
A documentary: This fabulous story will also be the subject of a 90-minute documentary lm retracing the group’s adventure from yesterday to the present.
An album: “Maravillas de Mali”‘ including the tracks of the original Egrem record, and new recordings made by Boncana Maïga and Richard Minier between Bamako Paris and Havana, with the participation of Roldan Gonzalez from the band Orishas.
QUE VIVA LAS MARAVILLAS DE MALI !