Musician Baaba Maal was born into a large family of fishermen in 1953 in Podor, Senegal. Because of his family’s fishing tradition, Maal was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a fisherman as well. Instead, he chose to pursue music. Maal was influenced by his family gawlo, a blind guitarist named Mansour Seck. He learned music from his mother and school’s headmaster and continued to study at universities in Senegal and Paris. By the age of 36, Maal began to record his music.
Maal sings mostly in Pulaar, the language of Senegal, and plays guitar and percussion. He has done many collaborations, including with U2, Mumford & Sons, and Hans Zimmer. Because of his passion for travel, stories, people, and different cultures, Maal is considered the “modern griot”. His latest record, The Traveller, emphasizes that “music and activism are intertwined” and carries the themes of “communication, reconciliation, and responsibility”.
Aside from his passion for music, Maal participates in charity work and foundations, including the U.N. Development Program and Oxfam. He has campaigned for women’s rights, HIV/AIDS awareness, and much more. Most recently, he is partnering with charity: water, donating all of his profits from his latest album, The Traveller, to the organization.
Featured photo: Baaba Maal, photo by Jon Klemm, retrieved from http://www.bumpershine.com/2010/07/07/baaba-maal-and-playing-for-change-at-summerstage-pics.html
“Biography.” Baaba Maal. 2015. https://baabamaal.tv
Romer, Megan. “Baaba Maal.” About.com. http://worldmusic.about.com/od/bandsartistsaz/p/BaabaMaal.htm
“The Traveller: Baaba Maal.” Charitywaterblog. http://blog.charitywater.org