Rokia Traore

Decades Active: 1990s 2000s


26 January 1974, Beledougou, Mali. A singer/composer originally from the south of the country, her father was a diplomat who moved his family around the world, exposing Traoré to a diverse range of cultures during her childhood. As a member of the Bamana ethnic group, Traoré was able by custom to pursue singing as a career without suffering the constraints placed on other Malian vocalists descended from noble families. She recorded her debut Mouneïssa in 1997 and it was released the following year. It received a highly favourable response among followers of acoustic-based African music and reached number 3 in the World Music European Airplay chart. More relaxed and melodic than many Malian artists, Traoré’s music features her strong, sweet voice backed by ngoni (Malian mini guitar), balafon (West African xylophone), bass and percussion. It possesses a hypnotic intensity and there are echoes of the blues in some songs (Malian...

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