Artist: Salif Keita
Salif Keïta (born August 25, 1949) is an internationally recognized afro-pop singer-songwriter from Mali. He is unique not only because of his reputation as the Golden Voice of Africa, but because he has albinism and is a direct descendant of the founder of the Mali Empire, Sundiata Keita. This royal heritage meant that under the Malian caste system, he should never have become a singer, which was deemed to be a griot’s role.
Keita was born in the city of Djoliba. He was cast out by his family and ostracized by the community because of his albinism, a sign of bad luck in Mandinka culture. He left Djoliba for Bamako in 1967, where he joined the government sponsored Super Rail Band de Bamako. In 1973 Keita joined the group, Les Ambassadeurs. Keita and Les Ambassadeurs fled political unrest in Mali during the mid-1970s for Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire 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.