Rokia Traoré

Rokia Traoré – @ The Festival Les Suds in Arles

Rokia Traoré (born January 26, 1974) is a Victoires de la Musique award-winning Malian singer, songwriter and guitarist, born in Mali as a member of the Bambara ethnic group. Her father was a diplomat and she travelled widely in her youth. She visited such countries as Algeria, Saudi Arabia, France and Belgium and was exposed to a wide variety of influences. Her hometown of Kolokani is in the northwestern part of Mali’s Koulikoro region.  source: wiki

Festival de Cannes 2015 source: riviera-city-guide

Rokia attended lycée in Mali while her father was stationed in Brussels and started performing publicly as a university student in Bamako. Rokia plays acoustic guitar as well as sings, and she uses vocal harmonies in her arrangements which are rare in Malian music. In 1997, she linked with Mali musician Ali Farka Touré which raised her profile. She won an Radio France Internationale prize as “African Discovery” of 1997, an honor previously won by Mali’s Habib Koité in 1993. As well as guitar she plays ngoni (lute) and balafon. source: wiki

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The daughter of a Malian diplomat who travelled widely outside her home country as a child, Traoré has always been a more cosmopolitan figure than many of her contemporaries, clearly as at ease in Europe as in Africa. Yet she has never forgotten the culture and character of her native land and, on her new album Né So, the dreadful atrocities Mali has endured in recent years – a brutal civil war and the barbaric cruelties of Islamic fundamentalism – have clearly had a major influence on Traoré’s songs and sound.
source: at
Quietly urgent … Rokia Traoré. Photograph: Danny Willems
Rokia Traoré has changed direction, yet again. Her last album, Beautiful Africa, was her most commercial, rock-influenced set to date, memorable for its blend of energy, anger and fine, personal songs. Now she’s back, with the same producer, John Parish, the same instrumental lineup (guitars, including her own electric guitar, bass, drums and ngoni) but a very different approach. The slinky, repeated riffs are more sparse than before, and the mood is darker and more personal, with quietly urgent, thoughtful songs of advice to Mali’s politicians and a rejection of violence influenced by events in her homeland. The best songs are left until last: Kolokani, a reflection on African village life and values; a breathy, soulful reworking of Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit; and the partly spoken title track, which concerns the refugee crisis. Less commercial than her last album, maybe, but it’s a finely sung, pained and intimate set. source: