Famed Mali artist Salif Keita performs a sold out concert for loyal fans.
Old Town School of Folk Music Chicago
Salif Keita and his ensemble returned to The Old Town School of Folk Friday night after having performed there in 2008. Further, this was only one of a few U.S. dates, a rare opportunity to see him. The eager audience of dedicated fans in-the-know, peppered with few new fans who where assured this show was one not to miss, couldn't help but dance in the aisle.
With a solo recording career of 20 studio releases spanning 35 years, Keita's songs are a rich blend of Afro-pop with jazz influences combined with more traditional Mali music. Hailed as one of the great African musical stars and the "Golden Voice of Africa", his earlier fame in Europe helped help establish this reputation while based out of Paris.
Backed with vocals, guitar, kit drums, keyboards and djembe, it is the kora, a traditional African stringed instrument that serves as the rhythm instrument bridging traditional and modern sounds. What comes through the most is Keita's powerful guttural vocal style.
His background is complex. He is royalty as a direct descendant of the thirteenth century warrior king who founded his tribe. Yet being a musician was not considered a worthy activity for such royalty. Due to being albino, he was ostracized as a sign of bad luck. It is here under these circumstances during his early years he led an isolated life herding livestock. This is how he developed his singing style with such emotional power.
For those who love Afro-pop, be sure to explore his music.