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Rokia Traoré Plays On, Despite Political Unrest at Home

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Thursday November 21, 2013

From Now Magazine

Rokia Traoré
Malian artist plays on, despite political unrest at home
By: Tabassum Siddiqui

Armed conflict in Mali has left an indelible mark not only on the country’s political landscape but on its rich musical legacy as well. For centuries, the West African nation’s griots (singer-poets) passed stories through song from generation to generation, keeping their history alive.

When armed militant groups moved to ban music outright in rebel-held territories last year, internationally acclaimed Malian singer/songwriter Rokia Traoré decamped to the UK to record her wide-ranging fifth album, Beautiful Africa (Warner), with the struggle back home top of mind.

“The [title track] is a reflection of life in Mali and living there,” Traoré explains on the line from a tour stop in Leeds. “Before the crisis, I used to go abroad for my work and then come back home, and I can certainly see the difference between then and now. It has a direct impact on people’s lives every day.”

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