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Biography of Rokia TRAORé

Mali > Music : Rokia TRAORé

Rokia TRAORé
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Biography :

Rokia Traoré is a Malian singer.

Rokia Traoré (born January 24, 1974-) is an award-winning Malian singer, songwriter and guitarist. Traoré was born in Mali as a member of the Bambara ethnic group. As her father was a diplomat, she travelled widely in her youth including to Algeria, Saudi Arabia, France and Belgium. As a result of this travel, she was exposed to a wide variety of influences. Her hometown is Kolokani, in the northwestern part of Mali's Koulikoro region.
While the Bamana have a tradition of griot performing at weddings, members of the nobility such as Traoré are discouraged from performing as musicians. Traoré attended lycée in Mali while her father was stationed in Brussels and started performing publicly as a university student in Bamako. Unusually for a female musician in Africa, Traoré plays acoustic guitar as well as sings, and she uses vocal harmonies in her arrangements which are rare in Malian music. In 1997, she linked with Mali musician Ali Farka Touré which raised her profile. She won an Radio France Internationale prize as "African Discovery" of 1997, an honor previously won by Mali's Habib Koité in 1993.
Her first album Mouneïssa (Label Bleu), released in late 1997 in Mali and 1998 in Europe, was acclaimed for its fresh treatment and unqualifiable combinations of several Malian music traditions such as her use of the ngoni and the balafon. It sold over 40,000 copies in Europe.
In 2000, her second album Wanita was released. Traoré wrote and arranged the whole album. The album was widely acclaimed with the New York Times nominating it as one of its critics' albums of the year.
In 2003 her album Bowmboï was released winning the prestigious BBC 3 World Music Award. As of 2005, she has been nominated three times for this award. She played at WOMAD in 2004 and completed her first tour of North America in the same year.

In 2005 she performed at the "Africa Live" festival, held in Dakar (Senegal) on 12 and 13 March 2005, where, besides Rokia Traoré, several great names of African music, like Malians Ali Farka Touré, Salif Keïta, Oumou Sangaré, Tinariwen, Tiken Jah Fakoly of Côte d'Ivoire, Cameronian Manu Dibango, Algerian Khaled, Senegalese Didier Awadi, Baaba Maal and Youssou N'Dour, and the French rapper Joey Starr were present. These concerts were dedicated to the fight against malaria in Africa, responsible for the death of a child every 30 seconds on the African continent.
In 2005 she also performed at the Youssou N'dour and Friends concert in Geneva, which was also a supporting gala against malaria, with Peter Gabriel, Amadou and Mariam, Gilberto Gil, Tiken Jah Fakoly and Neneh Cherry.
In December 2006 Peter Sellars' New Crowned Hope festival, which is part of the City of Vienna's celebrations commemorating Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birthday 250 years ago, saw the world premiere of Wati, a performance by Rokia Traoré and the Klangforum Wien.

Last update : 05/28/2008


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