Salif Keita the “Golden voice of Africa” has announced his retirement from music after releasing his final album ‘Un Autre Blanc’ or “Another white”. The album is an appeal for the protection of people with albinism and a good precursor to his tribute concert to Ramata Diarra, a 5-year-old girl with albinism, a victim of ritual crime.
Malian singer-songwriter, Salif Keita was born to a royal lineage in 1949, and despite being disowned for choosing to pursue music, he spent 50 years of his almost 70 years pursuing his passion. Keita is known for blending local folk music with popular music styles like jazz or rhythm and blues to pioneer a unique Afro pop dance-music genre.
His highly successful debut album, “Soro” (1987), was, “A remarkably adventurous work, tapping stylistic elements from American and European rock and pop music, jazz, funk, and rhythm and blues and fusing them with Mande music, especially hunters’ songs,” according to Britannica. Another album that has been described as his finest body of work is “Moffou” (2002) earned him a Grammy nomination.
His latest and apparently last album, “Un Autre Blanc” or “Another white” released in October this year features 10 brand-new songs and is the musical pinnacle of Keita’s advocacy for the human rights of people with albinism.
“Since 1960, the Malians have been with me, even those who do not like my music have been with me, because it is from their criticism that I have been able to improve,” said the artist in a statement, thanking his fans have been there all these years.
Singer-songwriter Salif Keita from Mali performs on stage during the WrocLove Fest at the White Stork Synagogue in Wroclaw, Poland, 17 June 2015. EPA/Maciej Kulczynski
The musician established a foundation in 2005 dedicated to raising awareness on the struggles of people with albinism, and ensuring their equitable treatment in all societies. He went on to embody this celebration of differences in his 2009 release “La difference” whose proceeds went towards the foundations efforts.
Keita is following his own footsteps by giving a free concert in the town of Fana, Mali, on the 17th of November 2018 as a tribute to five year-old Ramata Diarra. The child who was living with albinism was kidnapped, murdered and mutilated earlier this year.
“I want to finish at Fana where the little Ramata was sacrificed,” he adds. “I moved my concert to Fana to say” never again “. We do not have to do that anymore in Mali, “said Salif, referring to her murder.