Salif Keita

Afro-pop singer Salif Keita started out with Mali’s railroad-sponsored funk-pop band—the Super Rail Band de Bamako, organized by the newly independent government in the ’60s to promote indigenous music with brand-new electric instruments and to make Bamako’s train station an unlikely but now legendary cultural hub. (Imagine if Motown had contracted with the Federal Highway Administration and set up shop in a Detroit cloverleaf.) But even the African country’s entire railway industry couldn’t contain Keita, who split for his own propulsive band Les Ambassadeurs and later worldwide solo fame. His backstory helped—he’s an albino from a family specifically forbidden to become singers—but talent, focus and intensity carried him far beyond where the rails run. His new album, La Différence , supports efforts against anti-albino genocide in Africa and finds Keita in inspired form.

Tue., June 15, 7:30 p.m., 2010

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