Celebrating Senegal’s independence, West Africa’s best-known musician meets a boundary and nation busting collective of global artists.
World-renowned singer/songwriter and SummerStage alumnus Baaba Maal is widely acknowledged as one of Africa’s most prolific and beloved musicians. Maal’s distinctive palette, which fuses traditional African rhythm and song structure with elements of Western pop and R&B, first gained American attention with the seminal 1989 album Djam Leelii. Maal has since released over fifteen full-length recordings and engaged in a host of humanitarian concerns, including his work as a UN Youth Emissary. Maal’s most recent LP, 2009’s Television , offers a unique amalgam of electronic dance and global influences. Paste magazine observes, “Television embodies the sound of the African future while simultaneously nodding over its shoulder at the pain, joy, suffering and beauty of the continent’s past.”
Utilizing innovative mobile audio/video techniques, Playing for Change is the brainchild of Grammy-winning producer/engineer Mark Johnson. He records musicians in myriad outdoor environments- beneath urban streetlights, in public parks, in doorways, on cobblestone streets, amid hilly pueblos- and combines the tracks into unique new collaborations between artists that may have never met in person. Already the project has traveled from post-Katrina New Orleans to post-apartheid South Africa, from the remote beauty of the Himalayas to the religiously diverse Jerusalem, all while illustrating the power of music to transcend cultural and geographic boundaries. Select musicians from the project will come from different parts of the globe to perform together at SummerStage.