Baaba Maal - Biography

Baaba Maal is a prolific worldbest singer,guitarist and percussionist from Senegal. He primarily sings in his first language, Pulaar, and combines a menagerie of musical influences.


Baaba Maal was on in Podor, on the banks of the Senegal River, on November 12th, 1953. His father was a fisherman and Baaba was expected to follow in his footsteps due to the caste system. However, after befriending bling griot Mansour Seck, Maal was drawn to music. In addition to traditional music of the region, Maal was a fan of R&B, soul and later jazz and blues. After moving to Dakar, he joined the orchestra Asly Fouta and formed the group, Lasli Fouta, with Seck. After studying music at university in Dakar, he moved to France where for postgraduate studies at Paris’s Beux-Arts.


He first recorded “Yewende” for a compilation featuring Hamady Diop, Thione Seck, Omar Pene and Seck with Moussa Dieng producing but a first at Studio 2000 destroyed all the music. A year later, with the same producer, Maal and Seck released Dannibe (1982). The trio followed with Vol.2: Pindi Pinaal (1983), Vol. 3: Taan Farba Baggel (1983) and Djam Leeli (1983). In 1984, Maal and Wandama released Vol. 2: Yela (1984) and Vol.3: Bibbe Leydi Ngoume (1984). He made his solo debut with Yawende (1984 Studio 2000).


Whem Maal returned to Dakar, he and Seck formed the band, Le Dande Lenol, who mix African sounds with reggae and pop. They released Suka Naayo (1987 Studio 2000) and Wango (1987 Syllart). He followed with another collaboration with Seck, Djam Leelii (1989 Malo). An appearance, the same year, on Peter Gabriel’s Passion album exposed him to a larger audience.


His next few releases, Taara (1990 Syllart), Nouvelle Generation (1991 Studio 2000), a collaboration with Seck, Baayo (1991 Mango), and two more solo albums, Olel (1992) and Thiayo (1992), were relatively low key and traditionalist. It wasn’t until Lam Toro (1992 Mango) that Maal began incorporating electronic elements and western arrangements and the album was promoted more heavily than previous works.


In 1993, he appeared on a collaboration between Seck and Samba Diabare Samb, returning to his solo career with 1994’s Firin' in Fouta (1994 Mango) which featured ragga, rap, salsa and Breton harp, directly leading to the formation of led to the formation of the Afro-Celt Sound System. The same year he released Tono (1994 Mbaye Gueye), Tiim Timol (1994 Studio 2000), Sidiki (1994 Mango), an appearance on Jah Wobble's Invaders Of The Heart Take Me to God, and another collaboration with Seck, N'Der Fouta Tooro Vol. 1 (1994 Stern's Africa). More solo albums, Gorel (1995 4th & Broadway), Live En Allemagne (1995 Mbaye Gueye) and Sunigal (1995 Tala Diagne) were followed by a collaboration with Maguette Wade, Tele Varietes (1996 Mbaye Gueye).


After a long absence, Le Daande Lenol returned with Aiwa (1996). With Seck he released Souvenirs (1996 Talla Diagne). Nomad Soul (1997) featured Brion Eno and the same year, he appeared on the concept album, 1 Giant Leap. With Le Dande Lenol, he released Diapason des Stars 97 Vol. 1 (1997) and Diapason des Stars 97 Vol. 2 (1997) as well as the solo Maayo (1997). He closed out the decade with Live at the Royal Festival Hall (1999 Palm Pictures), L'Epopee d'El-Hadi Omar Taal (1999 Le Ndiambour) and with La Daande Lenol, Live A Londres Et St-Louis (1999 Studio 2000). 


After releasing the solo Jombaajo (2000 Sonodisc), Laamdo (2000 Origines) and Mi Yewnii (2000 PCS), Maal was tapped to provide two tracks, "Hunger" and "Still" for the film, Black Hawk Down. With Le Danande Leno he released Tijaan (2002 PCS). The following July, he was made a UNDP Youth Emissary. Once again, Maal and Le Daande Leno released Farba (2004 Origines S.A.). After the solo Sangoul (2005 Origines S.A.), Maal focused primarily on performance, culminating in July 2007’s performance in South Africa for Live Earth. That year he released Riche Afrique!!! (2007). On the Road - Edition "Bootleg" (2008 Palm) drew from a decade of live performances. For Television (2009 Palm Pictures), he teamed up with Brazilian Girls. In 2010 his only recording has been a track with the UK’s Get Cape, “Wear Cape, Fly.”





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