Malian legend Salif Keita has been at the forefront of African music for over 4 decades. Recipient of state honours in 4 countries, as well as of numerous music and humanitarian awards, Keita is widely known as "the Golden Voice of Africa", also for devoting much of his life to helping people who, like himself, have albinism.
Keita left his birthplace of Djoliba for Bamako aged 18. In the Malian capital, he joined the popular band Super Rail Band de Bamako, in which his soaring voice contributed to the integration of the Mandinke vocal tradition with the band's Afro-Latin sounds, as well as to its huge popularity. But it was the group Les Ambassadeurs, which Keita joined in 1973, that would be the vehicle for his international recognition. With growing political unrest in Mali in the mid-1970's, the group left for Guinea, then Ivory Coast, where Keita's homage to president Sekou Touré – "Mandjou" – would become his first major international hit in 1978.
Keita commenced a solo-career in 1984, now based in Paris, and a string of highly successful albums cemented his position as one of Africa's foremost vocalists and composers: Soro (1987), Amen (1991) and Folon (1995). Fusing Afro-pop with a range of styles including jazz, salsa and reggae, Keita worked with names such as Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter, Carlos Santana and Esperanza Spalding. Several of his songs have also become dancefloor hits through collaborations with Martin Solveig, Osunlade and Haska, among others.
However, with the turn of the millennium, Keita returned to his native Mali, and soon released the albums Moffou (2002) and M’Bemba (2005) which marked a return to a more acoustic, and traditional African sound using instruments such calebash, kora, n'goni and balafon together with his own acoustic guitar.
Keita's 2009 album "La Difference" is dedicated to the struggle of the world albino community, and received the "Best World Album" award at the 2010 Victoires de la Musique. Keita's most recent album "Un Autre Blanc", which he announced would be his last, was released in 2019 to coincide with the celebration of his 70th birthday and his stellar 50-year career in music, and features collaborations with African stars such as Angelique Kidjo, MHD, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Alpha Blondy.