Rokia Traoré

North America

Singer/songwriter Rokia Traoré celebrates and pays tribute to the ancient art of the griot storytellers with her new program, Dream Mandé – Djata. The history of Mali has been shared through stories and songs by generations of griots spanning centuries. In this striking program, Rokia tells a modern interpretation of the Mandingo epic, a tale she learned from revered storytellers, among them Bako Dagnon. It’s the story of Soundiata Keita, who united the Mandé people and founded the Mali Empire by reigning with respect rather than greed or violence. Accompanied by a fina on kora and a djéli on n’goni, the oral history unfolds as a musical structure punctuated by moments without instrumentation, leaving only the melodies and movement from the spoken or sung voice. Dream Mandé – Djata effortlessly blends the ancient and the modern, born out of the inevitable evolution of a story, using contemporary concepts to complement tradition. The performance celebrates and embraces the most beautiful and delicate music of West Africa, transcribing history outside the Mandingo language while preserving the meaning of every gesture, every word, and every original belief.