Salif Keita is an African musician (afro-pop singer and songwriter). Born in 1949 in the village of Djoliba, Mali, he is a direct descendant of the King Sundiata Keita, the founder of the Malian Empire. Fascinated with the mixing of cultures, he is constantly assimilating new genres and styles into his music. He is considered a prominent African figure not only because of his reputation as “the Golden Voice of Africa”, but because of his consistent commitment to the albino community, as he himself is albino.
At age 18 he moves to Bamako, the Malian Capital, where he’s spotted by a saxophonist and is invited to join the Bamako Rail Band. Later, he joins the band “The Ambassadors”, with which he successfully tours all over West Africa. This band had Malian, Senegalese, Nigerian and Guinean members.
Later on, the band moves to Abidjan, the capital city of Cote d’Ivoire, and they change their name to “The ambassadors Internationaux”. The song “Mandjou“, after which they named their first album, became an African Standard overnight.
In his desire to reach a bigger and wider audience, he moves to Paris in 1984, and collaborates with other African stars like Mory Kante, Papa Wemba, Tabu Ley Rochereau, Ray Lema, Toure Kunda and Manu Dibango, among others.
Among his many achievements, Salif Keita has been given the Guinean National Order by president Sekou Touré, the Lifetime Achievement Kora Award in South Africa, he is an ambassador for the United Nations for Sport and Music, and he was a Grammy Award nominee for Best Contemporary World Music Album in 2007.
At the turn of the 20th century he returns to Bamako where he decides to reside permanently. There he opens a club named “Moffou de Kalabancoro” and also opens his own recording studio named “Wanda Productions”, studio with which he intends to support the increasing number of emerging young artist from Mali and counteract musical piracy.
His discography includes more than 20 albums, and many of his songs contain a wide range of political activism. He also wrote the music for several Malian films, and participated in one called L’enfant Lion as a griot.
In 2001 he founded the Salif Keita Global Foundation for the fair treatment and social integration of persons with albinism, and in 2007 he decided to participate as a candidate in the Malian Legislative elections.
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