Malian Superstar Rokia Traoré Whipped the Crowd Into a Frenzy

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Tuesday May 28, 2013

From The Telegraph

Hay Festival 2013: Rokia Traoré, review
By: Alice Vincent

Malian musician Rokia Traoré is a good fit for Hay Festival. While she’s a superstar in Mali, and Timbuktu is twinned with the Welsh town, she spent most of 2012 in Bristol working on her latest album, Beautiful Africa, with renowned PJ Harvey producer John Parrish. So she must be used to unpredictable weather.

However, the drafty Wales Stage still felt a long way from the Festival au Désert, the annual celebration of Mali and world music based in the Timbuktu dunes until 2010, when it moved to the city after Islamist militant kidnappings.

Beautiful Africa is Traoré’s ode to the continent, combining anger and sadness at how Sharia law has banned music in Mali, a conflict which has prompted her to relocate to Paris from her native Bamako. But it’s also a record heavy with rock and blues influences, and it is this swagger, mixed with African sound and Bambara lyrics, which she brought to the stage.

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