42-year-old Ahmed Ag Kaedy is a Tuareg guitarist and singer and the leader of Amanar de Kidal, with several albums on the acclaimed Sahel Sounds label. Compared to more amped-up versions of traditional Tuareg music, Ag Kaedy’s eerily soul-stirring work harks back to Tuareg music’s folk roots. His powerful solo performances strongly evoke the silence and freedom of the desert.
Ag Kaedy grew up surrounded by the rich musical tradition of his people, but only started playing music as he went to military training in Libya. A profound man of peace, he ended up trading his rifle for a guitar and returning back to his native Kidal in the desert region of northern Mali. There he formed the band Amanar. In 2010 they were awarded the prize for best new group at the Festival au Desert in 2010 and released their first internationally distributed album Alghafiat.
In 2012 an alliance of Islamist extremists and Tuareg rebels took over northern Mali. They ransacked Ag Kaedy’s home, burned his instruments and threatened to cut his fingers if he dared play again. Thus Kaedy was exiled to the capital Bamako in the country’s verdant south, where he finished Amanar’s second album Tumastin. Since then Ag Kaedy has shared his life between Bamako, Kidal and performing extensively throughout Africa, Europe and America.
Recently he has been finishing up the third album of Amanar de Kidal and collaborating with German afrofunkers Onom Ageno, Finnish psych surfers The Shubie Brothers and French-based Australian experimental musician Will Guthrie.