Rokia Traore is one of Africa’s most famous musicians in the world. He has several albums, thanks to which, especially in recent years, has acquired a visibility in the international scene of contemporary ethnic music.
As well as its style tying it to the “masters” who, for decades, have introduced the African interpretations of the old rock’n’roll (trivialize), her figure and her presence in this scenario suggests an important opening to more and more differentiate and innovative music market.
It is true that musicians, especially in Africa, have defined the profile of a new music scene since the seventies. But beyond the enthusiasm of scholars, some record enlightened and curious music lovers, has always remained a niche phenomenon, although interesting not only in music but also in social and cultural level. And this also in the frame of the success that the so-called world music has gotten since the eighties.
Today, the scene changes and its most significant characteristics converge in music and awareness of Traoré . Which plays a Gretsch sixties and distances itself from the stereotype of the (native) folk singer repository of ancestral knowledge, she returned to live in Mali and from there, in a context torn by civil war, produces her music and ideas out to the world.
She has just released her latest album “Beautiful Africa”, for Nonesuch Records, rich of blues sounds and Western musical influences. Last June she performed in Naples , at the Mercadante theater, the show “Desdemona” , written by Nobel award Toni Morrison and directed by Peter Sellars, and in July she performed concerts in Rome and Milan. The Africa that shines through her production is more real and contradictory , less danceable and stuck in cadenced rhythms. As stated in a recent interview to newspaper “la Republica” : “art and culture can connect Africa with herself. We lack the ability to live in peace, cooperation and respect seem to belong to an unknown language. I wish young people could have the same opportunities that a teenager to another place in the world”. And in this difficult process, the artist has a leading role, because interprets and disseminates, but is also able to accelerate the flow and anticipate political and cultural factors that determine the possibility of a rebirth or the overcoming of the economic downturn that is affecting Mali at this time. “There is so much to do”, Traoré said, “my experience can be helpful as an example. I am interested in working on the theme of education, it is complicated, including Bambara language, other languages and French. I’m studying a project. The sample of despair in Africa is under the eyes of everyone: hunger, sick economy, overpowering. It is difficult for you Europeans can understand. We are a young continent struggling for independence against neo colonialism. I feel disoriented, but not without hope”.
This article is available also in: Italian