Salif Keita: The Golden Voice of Mali and His Debut Album Soro
Salif Keita is one of the most acclaimed and influential singers from Africa. He is known as the Golden Voice of Mali for his powerful and expressive vocals that blend traditional Malian music with modern pop, rock, jazz and funk. His debut album Soro, released in 1987, was a groundbreaking work that introduced him to the international audience and established him as a star of Afro-pop.
Soro means \"voice\" in Malinke, the language of Keita's ethnic group. The album reflects Keita's personal and artistic journey, from his birth as an albino in a royal family that rejected him for his skin color and his choice of becoming a singer, to his migration to Bamako and then Paris where he found success and recognition. The album also addresses social and political issues such as African unity, human rights, poverty and oppression.
The album was produced by Ibrahima Sylla, a visionary who had discovered many African stars and later founded the group Africando. Sylla hired some of the best musicians from France and Africa to create a rich and diverse sound that combined traditional instruments such as kora, balafon, djembe and ngoni with electric guitars, keyboards, horns and drums. The result was a fusion of Malian rhythms, melodies and harmonies with Western pop, rock and funk influences.
The album consists of six tracks, each showcasing Keita's vocal range and emotional depth. The opening track \"Wamba\" is a fast-paced song that celebrates African solidarity and calls for unity against colonialism and neocolonialism. The title track \"Soro (Afrika)\" is a majestic anthem that praises Africa's beauty and potential while denouncing its problems and challenges. \"Souareba\" is a love song that expresses Keita's gratitude to his wife for her support and loyalty. \"Sina (Soumbouya)\" is a tribute to his father who never accepted him as a son or a singer. \"Cono\" is a funky dance tune that criticizes corruption and injustice in Mali. The closing track \"Sanni Kegniba\" is a ballad that honors his mother who died when he was young.
Soro was a critical and commercial success, receiving rave reviews from critics and fans alike. It sold over half a million copies worldwide and won several awards, including the prestigious Prix Decouverte RFI in 1988. It also influenced many other African artists who followed Keita's example of blending traditional and modern elements in their music. Soro is widely regarded as one of the best albums of African music ever made.
One of the highlights of the album is the video clip for the song \"Soro (Afrika)\", which was directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, a famous French photographer and filmmaker who had worked with artists such as Madonna, Prince and David Bowie. The video features Keita singing in front of a giant map of Africa, surrounded by dancers and musicians wearing colorful costumes and masks. The video was praised for its artistic vision and its message of African pride and identity.
Another highlight of the album is the song \"Sina (Soumbouya)\", which is one of Keita's most personal and emotional songs. He sings it for his father, who never wanted him to become a singer and who died before he could reconcile with him. Keita belongs to the caste of nobles, who are not supposed to sing or play music, which is reserved for the caste of griots, the traditional storytellers and musicians of West Africa. Keita defied his family and his social norms by pursuing his passion for music, but he also paid a price for it. In the song, he expresses his regret and his forgiveness for his father, as well as his hope that he will be proud of him in heaven.
Soro is a masterpiece of African music that showcases Salif Keita's unique voice and talent. It is also a testament to his courage and resilience in overcoming the challenges and prejudices that he faced in his life. The album is a celebration of Africa's diversity and richness, as well as a call for its unity and dignity. Soro is an album that transcends borders and genres, and that speaks to the hearts and minds of people all over the world. 248dff8e21