Damon Albarn has accrued many titles over the years. He’s the frontman of three illustrious bands in Blur, Gorillaz, and The Good The Bad & The Queen. He’s a solo artist, a theater composer, and a failed Adele collaborator. He has been given the title of “local king” in Mali after collaborating with local musicians and performing in the country despite terrorist threats. Along with his new title, a classroom has been named Albarn and he was given a new traditional Mali name.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 about his honour, Albarn said: “I’m not used to this sort of thing, but it’s fantastic to see this classroom. And it’s a school dedicated to music and dance. That’s where my heart is, so my heart is here.”
A local explained why they decided to honour 47 year-old Albarn, he said: “Damon is not from Africa, but he is here today to be a king of these real people.”
Earlier this month the ‘Park Life’ singer performed at Toumani Diabaté’s three-day Festival Acoustik Bamako despite the fact the country was in a nationwide state of emergency. The emergency was declared after gunmen killed 20 people in an attack in a hotel in November 2015.
The Blur lead man has collaborated with numerous Mali artists in the past, including his 2002 album Mali Music, along with Maison Des Jeunes and In C Mali in 2013 and 2015 respectively.