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Salif Keita

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Djoliba, Mali (1949 – present)

Salif Keita (b. 25 August 1949), is an internationally recognized singer and songwriter from Djoliba, Mali. He has a reputation as the “Golden Voice of Africa”, he is also a descendant of the Mali Empire’s founder, Sundiata Keita.

He was outcast by his family & ostracized by the community, because he was an albino - a sign of bad luck in Mandinka culture. In 1967, he left Djoliba for Bamako, where he joined the government-sponsored Super Rail Band De Bamako (aka Super Rail Band). In 1973, Keita joined the group Les Ambassadeurs. Keita and Les Ambassadeurs fled political unrest in Mali during the mid-1970s for Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire & changed the group’s name to Les Ambassadeurs Internationales. The reputation of Les Ambassadeurs Internationales rose to the international level in the 1970s and in 1977 Keita received a National Order award from the president of Guinea, Sékou Touré.

Keita moved to Paris in 1984 to reach a larger audience. His music combines traditional West African music styles with influences from both Europe and the Americas, while maintaining an overall Islamic style. Musical instruments that are commonly featured in Keita’s work include , , , , , , and .

His album, M’Bemba, was released in October 2005.

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