Senegalese singer Baaba Maal [BA-ba Marl] sat down with NPR's All Things Considered to talk about his latest work on the Black Panther franchise, honoring the late Chadwick Boseman, and the meaning of his new single "Yerimayo Celebration." The single is from Baaba Maal’s daring and dazzling new album, ‘Being’, will be released on March 31st, 2023.
Listen to the NPR Interview
Listen to "Yerimayo Celebration"
The record is a powerful continuation of his pioneering, transcendent work over the last forty years, blending the ancient and the modern, the acoustic and the electronic. Extending his productive partnership with producer and multi-instrumentalist Johan Karlberg (Self Esteem, The Very Best, Santigold), his first album since 2016’s The Traveller, ‘Being’ was recorded in Brooklyn, London and Senegal and confirms Maal as one of the most uniquely compelling and constantly surprising musicians in the world.
The rousing first track from the album is “Yerimayo Celebration,” an introduction to a collection of songs that sees Baaba calling for people to both honor tradition and deal with new technology as they face up to a rapidly changing, challenging world. Featuring regular collaborators including Cheikh Ndoye on bass ngoni and Momadou Sarr on percussion, it is a glorious, positive percussion-heavy celebration of music and how in troubled times it can open the mind and hearts and fight cynicism and chaos.
Baaba Maal has followed his music as it traveled the world, spreading word of an energetic, idealistic Africa - from his young travels around West Africa performing songs with mentor Mansour Seck, to the Paris conservatoire where he studied musical theory, and ultimately across the globe. He has collaborated with John Leckie, Brian Eno, Damon Albarn’s Africa Express and Mumford & Sons. He has worked on movie soundtracks for The Last Temptation of Christ and Black Hawk Down and more recently become the voice of Wakanda for the Black Panther films, helping soundtrack composer Ludwig Goransson create the film's exhilarating musical soundscape.
“I could bring my Africa to this other, abstract Africa, and both places collided together beautifully,” he says of Black Panther, “I brought this mythical Africa back to Podor, extending my reality, my hometown, and my music. I didn’t know whether I would make another album after The Traveller, but I did know my thinking about music was still changing. And once more something stirred inside me at home in Podor. I found myself once again. It was time for a new album.”
Being - released March 31 2023 on Marathon Artists