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Future-embracing icon of West African music
"The musician's role is to give advice, to warn people and to make them aware of what they might not have thought of themselves." Unsurprisingly, these aren't the words of the next doe-eyed, woefully misguided X Factor warbler. Instead, they're just a sliver of the wisdom imparted over the years by a true icon of West African music - Baaba Maal. A committed ambassador for the continent, this is a man who'd be very comfortable in high office, such is his innate grasp of how the world fits together. But music got in the way, ironically allowing his message to reach a wider audience - the stage can have more impact than the presidential palace. And, throughout his work as a UN emissary or performances for international heads of state, his philosophy has been delivered through the medium of that strident, knife-through-butter voice, one of the most glorious sounds to have emerged out of Africa.
(Biography written by Nige Tassell 2011)