Baabal Maal: "African music is more than men pounding on a djembé"

November 2009 -

Baaba Maal has been a well-known Senegal singer for more than twenty years. On his latest cd, Television, he sings the praises of modern technology and the blessings it has brought to Africa. The music on his recently-released cd contains many electronic effects that wonderfully contrast with Maal's voice, still as great as ever. "With Television I hope to appeal more to today's pop fans so that I can demonstrate to the people in Europe as well that African pop music is much more than black men pounding on a djembé. It is surprising that so many western critics still think that way."


Baaba Maal

Reviews of Television, like those of Nomad Soul, were not always positive - unlike Baaba Maal's more acoustic albums like Missing You and Djam Leelii, because these fit better into the idea that many Westerners have of African music: primarily rural. Maal's objectives with his newest release are not solely musical. "Television is a pop cd that I am hoping will also appeal to the youth. I actively work towards achieving the Millennium objectives with a variety of educational programmes in Western Africa. My name is well known, but my message will reach the youth better if I wrap it in contemporary pop. They are not as interested in more acoustic work."

Why did he call his cd Television? "Television is more important in Senegal than the Internet. Television has finally matured. In the beginning, TV here was primarily a copy of American television, but now there are also broadcasts in Senegal’s primary languages, such as Wolof en and Bambara. Together with cellular telephones, including messaging, these are important means of communication for sharing information, even in the most remote regions."

Maal also strives to generate jobs with his music. "In Podor, the city of my birth in northern Senegal, the Festival des Blues du Fleuve is being held for the third time in December 2009. The festival team is extremely professional; I make sure of that. Most of the rest of the work is done by young people, who have a chance to obtain good experience."