I discovered Tinariwen a few years ago when iTunes offered one of their songs as the free download of the week. I became attached to their song because I loved the mixture of electric guitar music and West African music.
Tinariwen was founded by Tuareg musicians from the Sahara desert region in northern Mali during 1979, when they were placed in Libyan refugee camps. Because the Tuareg people are nomads and have problems with transport and communication in the Sahara region, Tinariwen has a great number of singers, songwriters and musicians, who perform in concerts and record music in different combinations. So they have a group of members, who are presently touring, and a group of members who aren't currently touring and there are also two members of the group (Inteyeden Ag Ablil and Wonou Walet Oumar), who are now dead. Their songs are often derived from Tuareg melodies and rhythms and they often involve the tindé drum and the teherdent (a lute played by people from the Gao & Timbuktu regions). Their music is influenced by Berber music of northern Algeria, in particular Ait Menguellet and Ferhat (radical Kabyle singers), electric rai music of Algeria, lute and mandol riffs, Egyptian pop music, Bollywood music and Malian musicians such as Ali Farka Touré. So they combine all these diverse influences in their songs to make a rather unique style.