Rokia Traoré


Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Rokia Traoré was born in Kolokani, Mali, in 1974. Currently stationed between Bamako, Bruxelles, and Paris, Rokia goes back to her native Mali and her music is influenced by her African roots tradition but also by European and American pop and rock that she always listened to during her life.

Traoré released her first album, Mouneissa, in 1998 which was received splendidly by critics thanks to her innovative sound made of Malian acoustics and the use of the n’goni, a traditional African lute, and the balafon. Mouneissa was followed by Wanita (2000), Bowmboi (2003) and Beautiful Africa in 2013, this album was published with Ponderosa Music & Art which was deemed by UNCUT «the highest point in her career». The unique sound of the songs in Bambara, a West African dialect, that created Beautiful Africa was achieved also thanks to the choice of John Parrish as producer, who helped the Malian artist to weave powerful rock sounds with typical African sounds which completed the personal and touching lyrics written by Traoré.

In 2016, after having left her native Mali due to the civil war, Traoré went back to recording in the studio and published with Ponderosa Music & Art, Né So, with John Parrish producing once again. This was the project that most of all summed up the artist’s twenty-year career and she admitted that the album was born from difficult moments she had to learn to channel in lyrics and music. This “musical therapy” told the story of Rokia but also of the world and the human condition and its extraordinary diversity.

Rokia explored diverse artistic directions during her career: she had the honor of opening the World Music Festival in Roskilde in 2009 and for her work for the Passerelle Foundation, ideated and led by Traoré herself, she was made part of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government.

Moreover, she collaborated with Nobel winner and novelist Toni Morrison and the MacArthur Genius Grant winner Peter Sellars, interpreting Desdemona in their Othello (for which she also composed the music). The premiere was held in Vienna in the summer of 2011 and then arrived at the Lincoln Center in New York and at the San Carlo Theatre in Naples, and moreover, at the Barbican Centre in London. At the Barbican Centre was also put in place a piece by Rokia across three evenings, titled Donguili – Donke – Damou (Sing – Dance – Dream). 

While in 2015 she was part of the jury for the 68th edition of the Cannes Film Festival chaired by the Coen brothers.
In 2020 she took part in La Musica dei Cieli, an event that aspired at promoting awareness and dialogue between cultures through spiritual music, for which Rokia performed a selection of tracks from Né So.






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