First Listen: Rokia Traoré, 'Né So'

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Thursday February 04, 2016

From NPR

First Listen: Rokia Traoré, ‘Né So’
By: Anastasia Tsioulcas

These days, the idea of home is on the mind of the fantastically gifted singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Rokia Traoré. It’s been four years since Mali, Traoré’s native west African country, began descending into ongoing bedlam. Only two months ago, jihadists attacked the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, and left 20 people dead. And, of course, the international migrant crisis is staggering in its numbers and complexity: At the end of 2014, the UN Refugee Agency says, 59.5 million people were displaced from their homes ‘” a historical all-time high.

It’s no surprise that the idea of refuge ‘” but also of abiding roots, and of possessing bone-deep knowledge of a specific place ‘” serves as a central catalyst to Traoré’s gorgeous new album, Né So, whose title means “home” in the Bambara language. (Traoré’s label, Nonesuch, has made English translations of all of her songs available on their website.)

The daughter of a diplomat, Traoré spent her childhood traveling internationally, and as an adult she’s moved back and forth between Europe and Mali. So it’s no surprise that she spends much of Né So investigating what, exactly, “home” means ‘” and what it means when a person loses her or his home.

To read more and to listen to the album click here