Salif Keita may have the finest, most soulful male voice in Africa, but one can never be sure how he is going to use it. He has always specialised in surprises, from his early days in Mali's Rail Band and his experimental, keyboard-backed breakthrough album Soro, through to dodgy jazz fusion and exquisite acoustic albums.
The Network Media Cooperative (Network Medien-Cooperative) was founded in October 1979 – by April 1990 we had already issued 19 titles, at the time as audio-cassettes with a comprehensive booklet in a small package that looked like a chocolate box. The covers and layouts were produced using Letraset on a light-table installed over a bath tub. Among those first records were the musical themes that were to preoccupy us for 30 years: an extensive document of the “Gypsies Music Festival”; meanwhile the music of the Roma has been documented on numerous Network CDs, including the anthology “Road of the Gypsies” (often copied but never achieving the same level). A double musíccasette packet was devoted to cult music from Haiti and the sounds and life philosophy of the Rastafarians in Jamaica. Recording trips were undertaken, among others, to Cuba, Trinidad, St. Lucia, and Curacao, but also to Latin America, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Belize. We also approached the music worlds of Africa in our portrait of the South African pianist and vocalist Dollar Brand (today Abdullah Ibrahim) and in the first studio recordings of Soukous music. These were followed by trips to Liberia, Senegal, Mali, Tanzania, Zanzibar.
2010 three CD set. From the dusty plains of Mali to the Tanzanian Serengeti, the African voice can be heard loud and proud throughout this vast and vibrant continent. Featured are African superstars Salif Keita, Orchestra Baobab, Rokia Traor‚, and Youssou N'Dour as well as less well-known names who will equally delight and excite such as Malian bluesman Boubacar Traor‚ and Zanzibar Taarab singer and WOMEX Award winner Bi Kidude.
In 1973 Salif Keita joined the group, Les Ambassadeurs. Keita and Les Ambassadeurs fled political unrest in Mali during the mid-1970s for Abidjan, Ivory Coast and subsequently changed the group's name to "Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux". The reputation of Les Ambassadeurs Internationaux rose to the international level in the 1970s, and in 1977 Keita received a National Order award from the president of Guinea, Sékou Touré.
He is the father of Paralympian athlete Nantenin Keita.
In 2005, Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour helped organize a concert in Dakar, Senegal, to generate support in the fight against malaria, a disease that continues to plague much of Africa. The Roll Back Malaria concert showcased some of the finest musicians in Northwest Africa, performing in a wonderful if small cross section of musical styles from the vast African continent.
Some common elements in all the performances were multiple percussionists (this being Africa, after all), and an aural fabric of ostinatos, usually played by one or more electric guitars.