Page last updated at 09:14 GMT, Monday, 9 November 2009

Saharan musicians win Uncut award

Tinariwen were the only non-US act in the shortlist

A band of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara region have been crowned the winners of this year's Uncut Music Award for best album.

Tinariwen won for their fourth album Imidiwan: Companions, beating the likes of Kings Of Leon and Bob Dylan.

The prize is handed to the album judged to be the "most inspiring and rewarding" of the past 12 months.

Tinariwen, who formed in 1979 in northern Mali, were the only non-US act on the shortlist of eight.

The group rose to prominence in the 1980s, raising awareness of political issues faced in the region.

'Common language'

They later brought their plight in the southern Sahara to the wider world through their mix of electric blues with Middle Eastern and African sounds.

Tinariwen were a unanimous choice by the 11 judges which included Billy Bragg, Radio 2 DJ Mark Radcliffe and Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold, who won the award last year.

Uncut magazine editor Allan Jones said: "It speaks a common language. You don't have to have the lyrics translated to know what they're talking about. You don't need to listen to the words of rock 'n' roll to be excited by it."

Tinariwen's Ibrahim Ag Alhabib said: "It gives us the strength to carry on working and spreading the message about the peace of our desert home and I'm glad that our music can cross the frontiers and talk to people around the world."

Other acts in the running for the award included Wilco, Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear and The Low Anthem.

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