Blur's Damon Albarn declared an African king
by Jeremy Mersereau
February 22, 2016
The Blur singer was honoured in Mali for his ongoing musical involvement.
Blur frontman and decidedly non-charmless man Damon Albarn was given the honourary title of ‘local king’ earlier this month when he returned to Mali to perform at the three-day Festival Acoustik Barmako. This event occurred despite Mali being under a declared state of emergency due to an Islamist terrorist attack at a hotel in November.
The title was bestowed on Albarn in recognition for his ongoing musical involvement with the country: Albarn has extensively travelled to Mali and worked with with artists in the West African nation. In 2002, he released Mali Music, a collaborative project with Malian musicians, and two albums with Africa Express, his ongoing project involving a large number of West African artists.
In addition to the honourary title, a classroom at a local school was also named after Albarn. “I’m not used to this sort of thing, but it’s fantastic to see this classroom,” he told the BBC. “And it’s a school dedicated to music and dance. That’s where my heart is, so my heart is here”.
The festival marked the first time international artists had performed in Mali since 2012. With the success of the inaugural 2016 edition, Acoustik Barmako is planned to become a yearly event.