News & Reviews
- Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Rokia Traoré, who is currently touring Europe, recently performed an intimate solo version of "Ka Moun Kè" off her new album, Beautiful Africa, for the Guardian. In the exclusive live session, part of the Guardian's How I wrote ... series, she discusses the origins of this love song, the title of which translates as "Darling, What Can I Do For You?" The performance is a preview of Traoré's upcoming tour stop at the Glastonbury Festival. Watch the video here. Songlines has listed Rokia Traoré's 2009 album, Tchamantché, at No. 4 among the Top 25 Mali albums.
- Monday, April 22, 2013
Rokia Traoré will be a guest on BBC Two's Later ... with Jools Holland this week, performing songs from her new album, Beautiful Africa. She and her band play "Kouma" on Tuesday's live show and "Mélancolie" and "Tuit Tuit" on Friday's show. This week's programs also include performances from Phoenix, Eric Church, Laura Marling, Petula Clark, and more. Tuesday morning, Traoré will discuss the album and perform "Ka Moun Kè" on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour.
About this Album
Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré’s Beautiful Africa will be released on April 9, 2013, by Nonesuch Records in Europe and Canada, with the US release to follow (exact date TBD). The record was produced by English musician John Parish (PJ Harvey, Eels, Sparklehorse) and recorded at Toybox Studios in Bristol, UK. Its lyrics are sung in the Malian–born Traoré’s native languages of French and Bambara, as well as some English.
Pitchfork described Traoré’s most recent record, 2009’s Tchamantché, as “a guitar album of a particularly understated bent...hauntingly spare yet ridiculously well-defined, the timbre and tone of every string presented in perfect resolution.” And the BBC World Service called it “One of the best albums of the year. An absolute stunner.” Tchamantché also won a Victoires de la Musique (the equivalent of a Grammy Award in France) and a Songlines Artist of the Year Award for Traoré.
The daughter of a Malian diplomat who was posted to the US, Europe, and the Middle East, Traoré studied sociology in Brussels before embarking on her musical career. Although based in Bamako, Traoré has, for her son’s safety, temporarily relocated to Paris due to the current conflict in Mali. Her music draws upon her homeland’s traditions as well as the European and American rock and pop she has listened to throughout her life.
Traoré has explored a breadth of directions in her career. She recently collaborated with Nobel Prize–winning novelist Toni Morrison and MacArthur “Genius” Grant winning director Peter Sellars on the theater piece Desdemona. The piece premiered in Vienna in the summer of 2011 and received its New York premiere at Lincoln Center that fall; its UK premiere was at the Barbican in London in the summer of 2012. The Guardian called it “a remarkable, challenging and bravely original new work.”
The Barbican also produced a three-night series of shows by Traoré that summer, entitled Donguili – Donke – Damou (Sing – Dance – Dream). For the Sing evening, held at the Barbican, Traoré and mandolinist/former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones joined young musicians from Traoré’s training program in Mali, Foundation Passerelle. Dance, at the Village Underground rock club, featured Traoré and her band playing the high-energy, danceable shows she is well known for—joined by Parish on guitar. And for Dream, which took place in an East End theater, Traoré narrated an ancient Malian tale, with occasional musical interludes. Australia’s Sydney Festival also presented Donguili – Donke – Damou in January 2013. Traoré was awarded the inaugural Roskilde Festival World Music Award in 2009 for her work with Foundation Passerelle.
In the autumn of 2012, Traoré joined Damon Albarn’s UK train tour Africa Express, performing scheduled concerts in Middlesbrough, Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff, Bristol, and London as well as pop-up performances at railway stations, schools, factories, offices, shopping centers, and private homes. Other musicians on the tour included John Paul Jones, Amadou Bagayoko, Baaba Maal, and Paul McCartney.
Rokia Traoré, vocals, guitars
Mamah Diabaté, n'goni
Fatim Kouyaté, back vocals
Nicolaï Munch-Hansen, bass, doublebass
John Parish, additional guitars
Stefano Pilia, guitars
Sebastian Rochford, drums
Jason Singh, human beatbox
Bintou Soumbounou, backing vocals
All songs written and composed by Rokia Traoré
Produced by John Parish
Mixed by John Parish & Ali Chant
Recorded by Ali Chant at Toybox Studio, Bristol, UK
Mastered by John Dent at LOUD
Executive Producer: Thomas Weill
Design by Evan Gaffney
Cover photo by Franck Socha
This album is available from Nonesuch Records for the world outside of Austria, Italy, and Germany.