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One of the premier purveyors of the Afro-beat counterpoint and ballad sound in the new world, Tartit (meaning union) hail from the Tombouctou region of Mali. They comprise five women and four men, all members of the Tamasheq ethnic group 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 strife of the region. In 1995 Tartit performed their first concert in Abidjan, Côte D'Ivoire, and played the Festival of Women's Voices in Liege, Belgium. Touring Europe in 1998 and North America in 2000, the group gained momentum and popularity working alongside fellow Malians Ali Farka Touré and Afel Bocoum, as well as Tinariwen, Oumou Sangaré, Lo'Jo, Baba Salah, Robert Plant, and Susan McKeown on her recording Sweet Liberty. Tartit released their first album, Amazagh, in 1997, followed by Ichichila in 2000, and their third effort Abacabok. A desire to actively contribute to the development of their homeland, Tartit formed an association dedicated to preserving and raising awareness of Malian music and culture by developing schools for children and opportunities for women. This project was recognized by the United Nations general assembly. Their songs emphasize the tinde drum with female vocalists who chant and play traditional African instruments as well as the imzad, while the male members concentrate on either the teherdent ngoni or electric guitar, emphasized by hand drums and percussive sounds. Members of Tartit are Fadimata Walett Oumar, Walett Oumar Zeinabou, Mama Walet Amoumine, and Fadimata W. Mohamedun all on tinde and vocals, Tafa Al Hosseini on vocals and imzad, Mohamed Issa Ag Oumar on lead electric guitar and vocals, Ag Mohamed Idwal on four-string teherdent lute and guitar, Amanou on three-string tehardent lute, guitar and vocals, and lead vocalist Mossa Ag Mohamed. ~ Michael G. Nastos