Sweet and sublime school recordings from elementary school group in Northern Niger from the 1980s. All-girl group accompanied by their instructor on the acoustic guitar, recalling Guinean folk and early Ali Farka Touré.
Troupe École Tudu takes their name from a small neighborhood of Agadez, Niger. In 1985, the city hosted a musical competition between various schools. École Tudu, lacking a choir, sought out a young Tuareg guitarist Kader “Barmo” Balla to create a new style of music.
The guitar was new to Niger and Barmo was new to the guitar, having only played for a few years. His notes were minimal and stripped down melodies mirroring the vocals, a technique common in Malian and Guinean folk music. To make something uniquely Saharan, they modeled their percussion on the tende, the traditional Tuareg goatskin drum and rhythm.
Their debut composition titled “Oyiwane” (“Greetings to Everyone”) won first prize at the competition and garnered the attention of the Niger state. The following year they were invited into the studio to record an album, released on the small boutique label Hasada (known for their seminal work with Mamman Sani Abdoulaye).
The compositions mixed traditional folksongs with original creations, but the lyrical content was political. At a time of massive rural migration, drought, and exodus, their songs were a message to the modern nomads, emphasising traditional culture while stressing the importance of education, particularly for young women.
The group continued to win accolades for their music throughout Niger. Following their success, a number of other school groups created similar guitar/vocal folklore groups. This style of music became popular throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s and led to the creation of the today’s female music troupes of Niger.
Restored and remastered for the first time outside of Niger, Troupe École Tudu’s Oyiwane is available on a limited vinyl pressing of 500, accompanied with liner notes and song translations from Kader “Barmo” Balla.