Profile: Baaba Maal, the Senegalese Fulani rock star

 

‘‘When you travel, you remember what your mother taught you.’’

This is the message that greets you when you land on Baaba Maal’s official website.

 

Baaba Maal, Senegalese international star is one of the most popular musicians and guitarist in Africa.
Baaba Maal, Senegalese international star is one of the most popular musicians and guitarist in Africa.

The Senegalese international star is a singer and guitarist born in a little known Senegalese town of Podor in 1953.

Baaba Maal believes that music is an important tool to get messages out to people, especially in Africa.

And he doesn’t just say that, he puts it into practice too. His songs are not just based on what people may want to hear.

Indeed, his songs dwell on things that he believes people need and should hear.

Baaba Maal and Bono in perform at the Island 50 concerts Hammersmith Empire - London 2009
Baaba Maal and Bono during a recent performance at the Island 50 concerts Hammersmith Empire in London

The 62 years old singer is gifted with the ability to present his message in a succinct yet charming way that opens up music lovers’ hearts.

In a career spanning over 36 years, Maal has a whopping collection of over 20 albums.

His music style is actually a blend of Afro-Pop, Club Dance, Worldbeat, African tradition, African folk,Desert blues among others.

 Mandela Freedom Day Nelson Mandela meeting Baba Maal and his children

Mandela Freedom Day: The late iconic figure, Mandela meeting Baba Maal and his children

The major driving force and inspiration for Baaba was his mum who was also a singer.

She taught Baaba how to sing the local music and her insistence triggered Baaba Maal’s fascination for music with thoughtful and intelligent lyrics.

The young Baaba Maal went on to read music at Dakar University. His academic excellence got him a scholarship for postgraduate studies at Beaux-Arts in Paris.

 

baaba-maal-studio-rfi-ok_0
Baaba, the African folkloric singer studied various African styles and fused them in his songs. Pictured above at the Radio France Internationale  (RFI) studio

Baaba spends much of his time touring the world, performing in front of international audiences.
The talented  singer has been recording since the late 1980’s. He gained much attention with his musical experiments.

He studied various African styles and fused them, adding modern facets to traditional instruments. This results in a fresh, raw sound he calls Afropop.

In 2002, Baaba helped record the soundtrack of “Black Hawk Down” and in 2008 he created the soundtrack for the video game “Far Cry 2”.

Alongside other international musicians like Youssou N’dour, Baaba Maal launched MusikBi.

Baaba Maal and his childhood mate Mansour Seck
Comrade-arms: Baaba Maal and his childhood mate, Mansour Seck, performing live on stage

MusikBi is a platform for legal download with a mission to promote Africa’a artists, pay them properly and fight internet piracy that is financially crippling artists the world over.

Acording to his official website, Baaba Maal is scheduled hold a series of performances in Hype Park London for the British Summertime and WOMAD in Charlton park London.

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