#SafaricomJazz Festival: 10 things you need to know about Salif Keita

Salif Keita. Image credit Aaron Rimbui https://twitter.com/AaronRimbui/status/630436635386245120

“What is music to you? What would you be without music? Music is everything. Nature is music (cicadas in the tropical night). The sea is music, the wind is music. The rain drumming on the roof and the storm raging in the sky are music. Music is the oldest entity. The scope of music is immense and infinite. It is the ‘esperanto’ of the world. ” Duke Ellington

Salif Keita. Image credit Aaron Rimbui https://twitter.com/AaronRimbui/status/630436635386245120
Salif Keita. Image credit Aaron Rimbui https://twitter.com/AaronRimbui/status/630436635386245120

The Safaricom Jazz Festival is in its second year and this past year in addition to the Main Safaricom Jazz Festival there have been stand-alone editions with a notable African Musician backed by an awesome local band. The last Safaricom Jazz stand alone edition featured Jimmy Dludlu who blew people away with his mad guitar skills at Kasarani.

This time the legendary Salif Keita from Mali will be performing at the Safaricom Jazz Festival. James Gogo and the Gogo Simo band will be curtain-raising for the event. The proceeds from the events will be donated to Ghetto classics. The gates open at 6 but the performances will start at 8. You can get your tickets via M-ticketing at 1511. Advance tickets Ksh 1500 and Ksh 2000 at the gate. Students will pay Ksh. 500. Remember to come with your school ID.

I am giving away 4 tickets to the show –  win tickets to listen to Salif Keita

A few facts about Salif Keita.

1. The 65 year old Salif Keita born in Mali in 1949. He is an afro-pop singer and songwriter. His music has also been referred to as world music but he says he doesn’t like the term. In an interview about being called a World Music artist he says

“Well in fact it’s a label the music industry has created. It’s not World Music, it’s African music. But the positive part is that it has helped African music to be known all over the world.”

His interviewer Marc Gabriel Amigone replies and says

“Right, personally I very much dislike the term “World Music” because it suggests two worlds from which music comes when in reality all music comes from THE world. Fela Kuti always hated the term World Music because it suggests its second class music.”

2. Keita is known as the “Golden voice of Africa. He says “Music for me is my life. It’s my freedom. My music give me a possibility to talk to people, to tell them what I want and what I feel. Salif Keita

3. Keita’s music combines traditional West African music and western music. Musical instruments that are commonly featured in Keita’s work include balafons, djembes, guitars, koras, organs, saxophones, and synthesizers.

4. Salif Keita is a direct descendant of the founder of the Mali Empire. Salif Keita was an outcast because of his albinism which was a sign of bad luck in the Mandinka tribe and because of that he was cast out by his family and ostracized.

5. Because he was of royal heritage under the Malian caste system he was not supposed to become a musician which was a career for lower castes. Salif credits music as the force that “made me want to keep living. There was no hope to carry on. I was always down. There was nothing for me. Nothing. Music made me want to carry on.”

6. In 1967 When he was 18 he joined the Super Rail Band de Bamako which was a government sponsored band.

7. In 1973 he and guitarist Kante Manfila joined Les Ambassadeurs, which later became Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux when the group fled Mali during political arrest in the mid 1970’s.

8. Les Ambassadeurs Internationales broke up in 1984. Salif Keita moved to Paris and launched his solo career. In 1987 he recorded his first solo album called Soro.

9. In 1991 Salif Keita’s album Amen got a nomination for a Grammy. He was the first African band leader to get a nomination. The album had a number of notable musicians such as Carlos Santana and Wayne Shorter.

10. Salif Keita has 18 albums to his name. They include Soro, Ko-Yan, Amen, Destiny of a Destiny of a Noble Outcast, 69-80, Folon, Rail Band, Seydou Bathili, Papa, Mama, The Best of Salif Keita, Sosie, Moffou, The Best of the Early Years, Remixes from Moffou, M’Bemba, The Lost Album, La Différence Talé

Find out more about the Safaricom Jazz Festival here. Check out some of Salif Keita’s videos below.

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