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Musician of the Week: Rokia Traore

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Monday November 04, 2013

From The Patriotic Vanguard

Musician of the Week: Rokia Traore

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.

While the Bambara have a tradition of griot performing at weddings, members of the nobility, such as Rokia, are discouraged from performing as musicians. Rokia attended lycée in Mali while her father was stationed in Brussels and started performing publicly as a university student in Bamako. Unusually for a female musician in Africa, 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.

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