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Rokia Traore: Scratchy Riffs, Choppy Funk

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Wednesday May 27, 2009

A maverick among Mali’s musicians, Rokia Traoré is shrugging off her label as an African artist. Her most recent album, Tchamantche, savoured more of the American south than the Sahara. For her support act she chose Sweet Billy Pilgrim, a quirky English art-rock group.

Rokia TraoreWhen Traoré and her band came onstage, the signalling continued. Malians at the Barbican generally favour traditional robes; Traoré wore white trousers, a black scarf and a blue jacket, which she soon discarded to reveal a sleeveless halterneck. Her drummer and guitarist were bespectacled Europeans; her ngoni player, Mamah Diabaté, wore the kind of pork-pie hat favoured by rap stars.

Click here to read the full article at the Financial Times website.