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Salif Keita

Golden Voice of Africa

Salif Keita, born in 1949 in Djoliba, is often called the Golden Voice of Africa. He is a direct descendent of Sundiata Keita, the Mandinka warrior king who founded the Malian empire in the 13th century. Born an albino - a sign of bad luck - Keita was shunned and ostracized by his family and community alike. His poor eyesight also contributed to his personal sense of alienation. In 1967 he moved to Bamako where he began playing in nightclubs with one of his brothers.

Keita's music blends together the traditional griot music of his Malian childhood with other West African influences from Guinea, the Ivory Coast, and Senegal, along with influences from Cuba, Spain, and Portugal, and an unmistakably overall Islamic sound. Besides the aforementioned guitar, organ, and sax, Keita's sound also includes traditional African instruments such as the kora, balafon, and djembe, often synthesized and sampled.