Senegalese Mansour Seck is best known in international circles for his close association with lifelong friend Baaba Maal. Since childhood he has been Maal's confident, mentor and almost a brother.
Both were born in Podor, Senegal. Coming from a long line of traveling oral historians, Seck was destined from birth to become a griot. But he suffers from hereditary blindness and so whenever he toured, Maal accompanied him. The two embarked upon their first tour in 1977. It took them throughout West Africa where Seck learned even more of native histories and music. In 1981, Maal moved to Paris, but sent for Seck as soon as he could afford it. They played in Paris through 1984, when they returned to Senegal. Since then Seck has continued to primarily work in Maal's band Daande Lenol, and though it is an electrified modern band, that also included traditional instruments, Maal devotes a segment of every concert for an acoustic session featuring himself and Seck singing traditional songs accompanied by their guitars. Though he has appeared on nearly all of Maal's albums, Seck did not record his first solo effort (actually it was made in conjunction with fellow griot Ousmane Hamady Diop; Maal also appears on the album) N'der Fouta Tooro, Vol. 1 until the mid-'90s. Two more in the series are planned. Though he is adept at playing Maal's more modernized versions of African music, Seck remains most comfortable playing acoustic versions of the ancient songs. His favorite topics are Senegalese culture, traditions, and social problems. He also sings his fervent wish for peace and when he makes others happy with his music, even though they might not understand his words, Seck knows he has done his sacred job well and feels content. ~ Sandra Brennan