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Baaba Maal

Baaba Maal
Maal in 2011
Background information
Born (1953-11-12) November 12, 1953
Podor, Senegal
Genres Yela, Worldbeat
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, composer
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1989—
Labels Mango, Palm

Baaba Maal (born 12 November 1953) is a Senegalese singer and guitarist born in Podor, on the Senegal River. He is well known in Africa and internationally is Senegal's most famous musician. In addition to acoustic guitar, he also plays percussion. He has released several albums, both for independent and major labels. In July 2003, he was made a UNDP Youth Emissary.

Baaba sings primarily in Pulaar[1] and is the foremost promoter of the traditions of the Pulaar-speaking people, who live on either side of the Senegal River in the ancient Senegalese kingdom of Futa Tooro.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
  • Discography 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Early life and education

Baaba Maal was expected to follow his father and become a fisherman. However, under the influence of his lifelong friend and family gawlo, blind guitarist Mansour Seck, Baaba devoted himself to learning music from his mother and his school's headmaster. He went on to study music at the university in Dakar before leaving for postgraduate studies on a scholarship at Beaux-Arts in Paris.


After returning from study in Paris, Baaba studied traditional music with Mansour Seck and began performing with the band Daande Lenol. Baaba's fusions continued into the next decade with his Firin' in Fouta (1994) album, which used ragga, salsa and Breton harp music to create a popular sound that launched the careers of Positive Black Soul, a group of rappers, and also led to the formation of the Afro-Celt Sound System. His fusion tendencies continued on 1998's Nomad Soul, which featured Brian Eno as one of seven producers. In addition to his various solo releases, he was featured on two tracks, "Bushes" and "Dunya Salam", on the concept album 1 Giant Leap.

In 1998, Baaba recorded "Bess, You Is My Woman Now" for the Res, Tony Allen, Ray Lema, Positive Black Soul and Archie Shepp for the tribute album to Fela Kuti, Red Hot + Riot.

On 7 July 2007, Baaba performed at the South African leg of Live Earth.

Baaba Maal's album On The Road, a live acoustic album recorded straight from the mixing boards of his shows over a ten-year period, was released on 10 August 2008. A new studio album, Television, was released on 1 June 2009.

He is featured on two tracks "Hunger" and "Still" on the Black Hawk Down soundtrack and performed on the title track of the 2008 video game Far Cry 2.[2] He played at Bonnaroo and the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival in 2010.

He is featured on a track on the Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly album All of This Yours.

Baaba Maal sang the track for Kerala Tourism's 2010 ad campaign "Your moment is waiting" with music composed by One Giant Leap.[3]

On 4 May 2013, Baaba Maal also performed at the 2013 edition of the Harare International Festival of the Arts in Harare, Zimbabwe.

In 2014, he contributed to the BBC Music's remake of The Beach Boys song "God Only Knows".


Baaba Maal performing at the Opening Plenary at the New Theatre, in March 2011
  • 1989 – Passion – Sources (compilation) - Real World Records
  • 1989 – Djam Leelii (with Mansour Seck) – Mango Records
  • 1991 – Baayo (with Mansour Seck) – Mango
  • 1992 – Lam Toro – Mango
  • 1994 – Wango – Syllart
  • 1994 – Firin' in Fouta – Mango
  • 1995 – Gorel – 4th & Broadway
  • 1997 – Taara – Melodie
  • 1998 – Nomad Soul – Import
  • 1998 – Djam Leelii: The Adventurers – Yoff Productions
  • 2000 – Jombaajo – Sonodisc
  • 2001 – Missing You (Mi Yeewnii) – Palm
  • 2003 – The Best of the Early Years (compilation) – Wrasse
  • 2005 – Palm World Voices: Baaba Maal (compilation) – Palm
  • 2008 – On The Road (compilation) – Palm
  • 2009 – Television – Palm
Import releases
  • Jombaajo
  • Ngalanka
  • Ndilane
Contributing artist


  1. ^ Megan Romer, Baaba Maal., World Music, 5 March 2014.
  2. ^ Baaba Maal - The International Star Of Senegal Music
  3. ^ New Kerala Tourism campaign: Copy cat or creativity unleashed?

External links

  • Baaba Maal – official site
  • Baaba Maal discography at Discogs
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