Rokia Traore, a singer from Mali, performed at Event-Hall Concert Hall in Voronezh on Tuesday, June 10. The performance was a part of the new program of Platonov Arts Festival “The World Music”, which introduces the Voronezh residents to root music of different peoples.
Rokia Traore, who the fans call “Malian Princess” is an incredibly popular performer of African ethnic music: she is a singer, a guitarist, and a songwriter.
The work of Rokia Traore is based on the song tradition of Bambara people, and more than a half of her songs she performs in Bambara language - this is the second official language of Mali besides French. Rokia was raised in the family of a diplomat and was traveling around the world from her early childhood - , she lived in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, France, Belgium with her parents and became a true man of the world, though she was always interested in the culture of her native country.
- Music for me is an expression of freedom, a reflection of the culture of my native country, and with the help of music I want to show the world our culture and the positive processes taking place on the African continent. The main thing that inspires me is the need to communicate.
- I have been traveling a lot, communicating with people since my childhood, I have made many friends – that’s what I’m singing about, I express these emotions in my music. First of all, when I hear music I want to play it myself, so I began my career. And the whole process of the creation of a song is consistent: first I give birth to the words, then I wrap them in the musical shell to show what I felt at that moment, and then the album cover, the picture are born. Thus, my inspiration is everything that happens around me - Rokia says.
The concert in Voronezh became the first Russian performance of Rokia Traore. – She came to Russia with her band specially for the Platonov Arts Festival, interrupting her European tour. In Voronezh, Rokia mainly presented the songs from album “Beautiful Africa”.
Before becoming a musician Rokia graduated from school in Mali, and began to perform in public only when she became a student in Bamako. She plays the guitar, that is very unusual for an African female musician and uses vocal harmonies, which are rare for Malian music. At the same time she received many serious music awards for the promotion and development of traditional Malian music and the critics call her “African Discovery”.
- When I finished my education in Brussels, I was going to return to my homeland, and I had an idea to start a musical project, which would reflect the Malian national motifs - Rokia said before the concert. - Then I did not know whether I would be a musician, and what my future career would be, I just wanted to create such a project. And I wanted to present the ethnic music not in its traditional form, but as I understand it and feel it myself. I got aquainted with the classical and the popular European music quite early as I came to Europe at the age of two, and of course I was raised by European music, and when I was coming back from Brussels to Mali, I already knew what kind of music I want to write.
According to Rokia, her very first project, album Mouneïssa, released in 1998, was closer to the ethnic music and was recorded using traditional Malian musical instruments. But ten years later Rokia came to the European interpretation of African motifs (“I missed my guitar and I wanted, as paradoxical as it sounds, to return to European music”).
In 2008, after album Tchamantché, the singer, as she admitted herself, changed the course to blues adaptation of the traditional Malian music - and in 2013 her new album Beautiful Africa appeared, which iTunes, amazon.co.uk, The Boston Globe, TheCanadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC), Vulture unanimously included in the top best records of the year.
Rokia started the great world tour in support of this album. Only in 2013, she already gave more than 60 concerts in Rome, Paris, Oslo, Ljubljana, London and other European cities, She also gave concerts in the U.S., Australia and Canada.
Rokia confessed that her mission is to dispel negative stereotypes about Africa and Africans and show her listeners around the world the beauty of different cultures.
- Strange things have happened in the 21st century: in the development of intercultural communication the people have learned the world from different perspectives and seemingly have become more open, but at the same time many have come to the conclusion that the world is too big and too dangerous, people began to pay attention to their roots, go back to their traditions, and came to the conclusion that it is necessary to protect their roots in order not to dissolve in the globalization. We now see almost the same trends in many countries: racism has again appeared in some places, and in response - the idea that we should strengthen our borders, adhere to our people, that we shall not change. We again go round the circle of the same beliefs,