Concerts from the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

THURSDAY,SEPTEMBER 19, 2019, 12:00 PM, No Tickets Required

Les Fillies de Illighadad

Coolidge Auditorium, Thomas Jefferson Building

Fatou Seidi Ghali, lead vocalist and guitarist 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. While Fatou's role as the first female Tuareg guitarist is groundbreaking, it is just as interesting for her musical direction. In Tuareg society, woman have traditionally been musicians, but not guitarists. They have been deeply involved with tende, a form of music centered on a drum traditionally made out of a mortar and pestles. Tende rhythms also deeply informed the development of Tuareg guitar music, which is mostly the province of men. In a place where gender norms have created these two divergent musics, Fatou and Les Filles de Illighadad are reasserting the role of tende in Tuareg guitar. In lieu of the djembe or the drum kit, so popular in contemporary Tuareg rock bands, Les Filles de Illighadad incorporate the traditional drum and the pounding calabash, half buried in water. They are thus reclaiming the importance of this forgotten inspiration of Tuareg guitar and asserting the power of women to innovate using the roots of traditional Tuareg music.

Fatou Seidi Ghali, Alamnou Akirwini, Fitimata Ahmadelher, and Abdoulay Madassane Alkika are from Illighadad, a secluded commune in central Niger, far off in the scrubland deserts at the edge of the Sahara. The village is only accessible via a grueling drive through the open desert and there is little infrastructure, no electricity, and no running water. But what the nomadic zone lacks in material wealth it makes up for deep and strong identity and tradition. The surrounding countryside supports hundreds of pastoral families, living with and among their herds, as their families have done for centuries.

A free noon concert series presented by the American Folklife Center and the Music Division of the Library of Congress. Most concerts are held in the Coolidge Auditorium (located on the Ground Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress) or the Whittall Pavilion (next to the Coolidge, on the Ground Floor, Jefferson Building). Occasionally, concerts may be in other locations, which will be specified above in the concert description. Presented in Partnership with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. NO TICKETS REQUIRED.