Les Filles de Illighadad are all from the village of the same name, a secluded commune in central Niger, far off in the scrubland deserts at the edge of the Sahara. The surrounding countryside supports hundreds of pastoral families, living with and among their herds, as their families have done for centuries.
Fatou Seidi Ghali, lead vocalist and performer 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 a place where gender norms have created 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, Les Filles de Illighadad incorporate the traditional drum and the pounding calabash, half buried in water. The forgotten inspiration of Tuareg guitar, they are reclaiming its importance in the genre and reclaiming the music of tende.