I am a big fan of Thione Seck, a Senegalese singer who has been famous in Africa and Europe for more than 20 years. He is less well-known than other Senegalese superstars like Youssou N’Dour and Baaba Maal, probably because he doesn’t often travel outside of Senegal. Like his more famous compatriot, Seck has that amazing, big griot voice and a number of wonderful albums, though they’re harder to come by since he doesn’t have a licensing deal with big world music labels. Nevertheless, he is famous in Senegal for his moral rectitude and Muslim faith in the predominantly Islamic country.
I love his 2005 Orientation album and often feature it on my shows and in my music salons. But now, Thione Seck’s recent arrest by the police is at odds with his image and has besmirched his reputation. I knew he must have had a taste for the finer things in life when Dakar Sound released his song “Chauffeur Bi-Turbo” on a compilation with an image of him standing proudly beside his new Maserati Bi-Turbo sports car. Some say his enjoyment of luxury goods has gotten him into trouble. He had in his luxury home a bag with $50 million in counterfeit euros. He claimed that he was given the money in payment for a series of upcoming concerts and didn’t know it was counterfeit. The authorities were tipped off by a counterfeiter who was printing the fake euro notes in a Dakar apartment, and now they allege that Seck was part of the counterfeit currency ring.
Seck now finds himself in a VIP section of a Dakar prison, swearing his innocence. His squad of lawyers maintain that he was taken advantage of by crooks possessing mystical powers that overcame him and claim the artist was under a spell when he accepted the fake loot.. There are many African forms of magic known as maraboutism, We call it sorcery, and it often results from superstition.
Because he is a revered cultural hero, however, there are many in Senegal are rooting for his complete exoneration from any wrongdoing.
Thione Seck performing “Assalo” from Orientation. It combines Senegalese music with Arabic and Indian influences into an organic, amazing whole.