One of the first things that Modibo Keita did, upon ascending to the presidency of Mali in 1961, was instruct a former classmate, Nfa Bourama Sacko, to assemble a musical group. Initially named Ensemble Internationale, this group became known as the National Ensemble of Mali. A breeding ground for talented musicians, the ensemble provided early exposure to such future stars as Tata Bambo Kouyate, Ami Koita, Sali Sidibe, Coumba Sidibe, and Oumare Sangare. With a decrease of funding, in the late '80s, the group lost many of its best musicians and singers. The overthrow of Keita's government, in 1991, the group ceased to exist.