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Senegalese singer and star of the world stage Baaba Maal is a man with a mission that extends beyond his music. He is committed to the concerns of families, young people and the future of the continent, as is reflected in his role as Youth Emissary for the United Nations’ Development Program, about which he says:

"It strengthens my determination to work harder to contribute more to improving the living conditions of disadvantaged people of the African continent, especially young people, whose future is seriously threatened by illiteracy, poverty and HIV/AIDS. When I am talking about Africa, it is about how Africa will grow into the new millennium. This is why I really wanted to make music, so people can listen more to the music and the messages I am talking about." - Baaba Maal

Baaba never stops touring. He ended the last millennium with debut tours of Australia, South Africa, South America and the West Indies following on from stunning European and North American tours - the response globally to both the man and his music is always immense.

In December 2004 Baaba Maal was thrilled to perform in Oslo when Kenya’s Wangari Maathai became the first woman from Africa to be honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize. He performed alongside Andrea Bocelli, Diana Krall, Patti Labelle, Cyndi Lauper, Polyphonic Spree and Joss Stone at the event hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Tom Cruise.

When Baaba tours the world, as one of its great performers, his role as a representative of the United Nations’ Development Program is never far away. Both elements come together when Baaba features in musical projects such as “Red Hot and Gershwin” and the Fela Kuti Tribute “Red Hot and Riot,” both put together by HIV/Aids awareness campaign group The Red Hot Organisation.

In February 2005 Baaba Maal was the special guest speaker for a lecture at the British Museum where he gave his views on Africa, speaking passionately and eloquently of the continent’s strengths and its challenges.

Baaba Maal sold out a special performance at the Royal Festival Hall on April 1st 2005 with the aural and visual spectacle of his full band, Daande Lenol. This was a special project celebrating the Hayward Gallery’s inspirational Africa Remix exhibition. He was then invited to headline Glastonbury’s Jazz World Stage on Saturday 25th June and also to lead a show of solidarity with the Make Poverty History Campaign with Bob Geldof.

On July 2nd Baaba made a speech in support of the Make Poverty History Campaign in Edinburgh and addressed the Rally in advance of the G8 Summit at Gleneagles.
Returning to London in August 2005, he presented a special and prestigious Late Night Prom at the Royal Albert Hall. 

 

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Background
Baaba comes from humble beginnings but he has learned and travelled and now speaks and sings of empowerment, enlightenment and peace. Baaba Maal was born in Podor, a town with a population of 6,000, on the banks of the river Senegal that separates the country of the same name from Mauritania. Baaba's family is Hal Pulaar, known in the English speaking world as Fulani. He is not from a Griot family (the hereditary caste of artists and communicators). His father worked in the fields but was also given the honour and responsibility of using songs to call the worshippers to the mosque. Baaba's mother was a musician who sang and wrote her own songs educating her son in the musical forms of the area and encouraging the young Baaba to value intelligent and thoughtful lyrics.

At the same time Baaba was listening to American black music, people like James Brown, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Etta James. Later he caught up with Jamaican musicians such as Toots Hibbert, Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff.

Baaba went to school in St. Louis, the original French colonial capital and after winning an Art scholarship, went on to Senegal's modern capital, Dakar. There he joined Asly Fouta (a group of 70 musicians) and spent his time with the group learning as much as he could about the local musical instruments and how they work. On leaving college he toured West Africa with longtime friend, guitarist and griot Mansour Seck, soaking up more knowledge. "It's traditional for young musicians to do that. When you arrive in every village you do a gig. This makes you friendly with all the young people who are in the village. The next day the young people take you to visit the oldest person who knows about the history of the village and the country and about the history of the music."

From there Baaba lived in Paris for several years, studying at the Conservatoire des Beaux Arts, with ears still wide open. On arriving back in Senegal Baaba formed his band Daande Lenol (Voice of the People).

Baaba Maal is a man with a mission that extends beyond music. He often credits his much-loved mother with giving him a broader and more sympathetic view of the world than many contemporaries. Baaba is a citizen of the developing world who has carved out a place for himself in the first world. Baaba Maal can speak and sing to and for Africa with unprecedented authority.

“Baaba Maal opened his mouth and beautiful pearls and lilies and songbirds came flying out. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen” - Michael Stipe

Discography
1988 Wango, Syllart SYLCD 8348 (Stern's)
1989 Djam Leeli (with Mansour Seck), Rogue FMSL
1990 Taara, Syllart production, Melodie 38774 -2
1991 Baayo, Mango 162-539 907-2
1992 Lam Toro, Mango 162-539 925-2
1994 Firin' in Fouta, Mango 162-539 944-2
1998 Djam Leeli (with Mansour Seck), re-released with extra tracks (YOFFCD0001)
1998 Nomad Soul, Palm Pictures PalmCD 2002
2001 Mi Yewnii (Missing You), Palm Pictures Palm CD
2005 A Voice for Africa DVD + “The Best of Baaba Maal” CD compilation
2009 On The Road, Palm Pictures
2009 Television

Baaba Maal Links:

Listen to the music of Baaba Maal - Track List

Baaba Maal Videos:

Dakar Moon

Television

Sierra Nevada World Music Festival


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