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Salif Keita gave up a lot to pursue his dreams of a career in music. Born to royal lineage, with ancestral roots going back to Soundjata Keita, the founder of the Malian Empire in 1240, Keita was disowned by his father after announcing his plans to play music. Keita's dreams, however, were too strong to be shattered. Moving to the capitol city of Bamako in 1967, he was soon playing in nightclubs with one of his brothers. Within two years, he was invited to join the Rail Band. A popular, government-sponsored group that played regularly at the Buffet Hotel de la Gare, the Rail Band featured influential Malian guitar player Kante Manfila. Keita's soulful singing soon brought the band to a much higher plateau. In 1973, Keita and several members of the Rail Band relocated to Abidjian, the capitol of Cote d'Ivoire (The Ivory Coast). Renamed Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux, the group continued to attract attention with their lively fusion of Cuban, Zairean, and Malian influences.
In 1977, Keita received the prestigious National Order of Guinea from President Ahmed Sekou Toure. Encouraged to pursue a solo career, Keita moved to Paris in 1984. Settling in the city's Montreuil section, he found a thriving community of more than 15,000 transplanted Malians. Predictions of success proved true with the release of Keita's debut solo album, Soro, in 1987. Produced by Ibrahim Sylla, the album combined African, jazz, funk, Europop, and R&B influences. Keita continued his recording career with several releases for Mango throughout the '90s, including the Mansa of Mali anthology, before moving to Blue Note for Papa in 1999 and then Decca, where he debuted with Moffou in 2002. Moffou was considered some of Keita's finest work to date, and he received a Grammy nomination for the album. Keita then returned to Bamako, Mali, in order to record his next full-length effort, M'Bemba, which came out in 2006.
Wikipedia:For other people named Salif Keita, see Salif Keita (disambiguation).
Salif Keïta (IPA: [salif keɪta]) (born August 25, 1949) is an afro-pop singer-songwriter from Mali. He is unique not only because of his reputation as the "Golden Voice of Africa" but because he has albinism and is a direct descendant of the founder of the Mali Empire, Sundiata Keita. This royal heritage meant that under the Malian caste system, he should never have become a singer, which was deemed to be a griot’s role.
Keita was born in the village of Djoliba. He was cast out by his family and ostracized by the community because of his albinism, a sign of bad luck in Mandinka culture. He left Djoliba for Bamako in 1967, where he joined the government sponsored Super Rail Band de Bamako. In 1973 Keita joined the group, Les Ambassadeurs. Keita and Les Ambassadeurs fled political unrest in Mali during the mid-1970s for Abidjan, Ivory Coast and subsequently changed the group's name to "Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux". The reputation of Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux rose to the international level in the 1970s, and in 1977 Keita received a National Order award from the president of Guinea, Sékou Touré.
He is the father of Paralympian athlete Nantenin Keita.
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. Musical instruments that are commonly featured in Keita's work include balafons, djembes, guitars, koras, organs, saxophones, and synthesizers. He performed at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert in 1988 to call for Nelson Mandela's release from prison. In 1990, Keita contributed "Begin the Beguine" to the Cole Porter tribute/AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Blue, produced by the Red Hot Organization.
Keita found success in Europe as one of the African stars of world music, but his work was sometimes criticised for the gloss of its production and for the occasional haphazard quality. However, shortly after the turn of the Millennium he returned to Bamako in Mali to live and record. His first work after going home, 2002's Moffou was hailed as his best album in many years, and Keita was inspired to build a recording studio in Bamako, which he used for his album M'Bemba, released in October 2005.
Guest artists on his albums have included Weather Report founders Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, drummer Paco Sery, guitarist Carlos Santana, and percussionist Bill Summers.
Keita's album, La Différence, was produced around the end of 2009. The work is dedicated to the struggle of the world albino community (victims of human sacrifice), for which Keita has been crusading all his life. In one of the album's tracks, the singer calls others to understand that "difference" does not mean "bad" and to show love and compassion towards albinos like everyone else:"I am black/ my skin is white/ so I am white and my blood is black [albino]/...I love that because it is a difference that's beautiful...", "some of us are beautiful some are not/some are black some are white/all that difference was on purpose...for us to complete each other/let everyone get his love and dignity/the world will be beautiful."
La Différence was recorded between Bamako, Beirut, Paris, and Los Angeles. This unique musical feel is reinforced by soulful pitches in the track "Samigna" emanating from the trumpet of the great Lebanese jazzman Ibrahim Maaluf.
La Difference won Keita one of the biggest musical awards of his career: the Best World Music 2010 at the Victoires de la musique.
In 2013, after what he described as "threats" from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, he cancelled a performance in Israel.Lindiwe Dovey African Film and Literature: Adapting Violence to the Screen 2009 - Page 268 "He describes the first screening of La Genèse in Mali, in Salif Keïta's home village (Djoliba), as one entailing ... Sissoko says that the violence between farmers and stockbreeders in Salif Keïta's region, and the state violence against nomadic ..." Artist Profile - Salif Keita "Quatre filles handicapées en or". Le Parisien (in French). 20 November 2008. Ali Abunimah (22 August 2013). "Afropop star Salif Keita cancels Israel gig after boycott calls". electronicintifada.net. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
SinglesYamore (2002) (with Cesaria Evora)
Cherif Keita, Outcast to Ambassador: The Musical Odyssey of Salif Keita, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 1, 2011) At minute 45 of this interview, Cherif Keita begins talking about Salif Keita http://ias.umn.edu/2012/12/01/keita/.