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Baaba Maal

Out of the northern part of the small country of Senegal comes one of Africa's most far-reaching voices: that of Baaba Maal. He studied music first in Dakar and then in Paris. His music is deeply rooted in the traditional sounds that he grew up with but has also been influenced by American soul and Jamaican ska. 
It was unusual for someone of Baaba Maal's caste to become a musician because he is not a griot (hereditary praise singer) but is from the fishermen's caste. He is much revered in his home area and continues to perform there but these are very late night shows in remote villages where the nomadic people live - the shows may begin at 3 a.m. and go on until daylight.
In 2001 Baaba was on an extensive European tour that began in Brussels. The 10 British venues ranged from as far south as Portsmouth right up to Aberdeen in the north. During the time of the tour he was also on several radio and TV programmes, a sign of the extent of his popularity. Baaba is frequently selected to give talks on contemporary African issues.

Baaba Maal's international CD releases are Djam Leelii (1989), recorded with blind guitarist Mansour Seck (Baaba Maal's griot with whom he has played for twenty years), Firin' in Fouta (1994), an album that has a great variety of sounds and gave rise to the Afro-Celt Sound System that members
of Baaba Maal's band (Daande Lenol) have collaborated with, and Nomad Soul (1998) which has a unique blend of traditional and modern sounds. His 2001 album (see CDs) missing you...mi yeewnii features Guinean Kante Manfila and, again, Mansour Seck. Look out for Baaba Maal (2005), a box-set with an 11-track CD, a DVD documentary

entitled 'A Voice for Africa' and beautiful booklet, maps and information on Senegal. After an 8-year gap, Baaba Maal has 2 new albums - On the Road (2008) which features acoustic live versions of much- loved tracks, and a studio album Television was released in 2009. The title track relates the impact of television on Africa. Baaba's songs often carry strong messages such as women's rights and in 2001 he was involved in a project with the UN on raising AIDS awareness.
Some notable projects Baaba Maal has contributed to are the global fusion '1 Giant Leap', Manu Dibango's 'Lion of Africa' celebration in 2004, and the tribute to Fela Kuti, Red Hot + Riot (2005) . Since 2005 he has put on a festival called 'The Blues Of The River' (Les Blues du Fleuve) with participation oflarge numbers of people from his home area.
Very significantly Baaba is an ambassador for both Sight Savers International, a charity that offers cataract surgery, and for Nelson Mandela's 46664 project
and he is also UN Youth Emissary. For all the latest information and features visit Baaba Maal.

Click on the CD cover to hear part of the track 'miyaabele'