Rokia Traoré Talks with NPR's "All Things Considered" About Her New Album, "Beautiful Africa"
Rokia Traoré, whose new album, Beautiful Africa, was released in the US this week, was featured on NPR's All Things Considered last night. She spoke with host Melissa Block about the new album and the inspiration and influences behind its songs, which are sung in the Malian-born Traoré’s native languages of French and Bambara, as well as some English. You can listen to the piece below.
Asked why she chose to call the album Beautiful Africa, Traoré, reflecting on the recent challenges and conflict in her home country of Mali and beyond, answers: "Because these conflicts are mine. They are in these countries which are mine because I am an African. And what you can see in media is like there's no longer life possible there in these countries. So I'm simply not saying that it's the best place in the world and it's the best culture. No. But I have a responsibility what happened, and I knew I love Africa, of course. And I knew I am proud of Africa and trust in Africa and I just wanted to sing that."
Traoré goes on to discuss the unexpected choice of a career in music, the tension this caused with her diplomat father, and how the two moved beyond their differences. Later, she explains the inspiration behind the album's closing track, "Sarama," namely her fellow country women, whom she describes as "iron women."
"These women are simply amazing because when I feel tired, I imagine them in their life of every day. They never show that they are tired ... all the time working, but working and smiling and taking care of everything with nothing to support them," she explains. "And the amazing thing is that when I go back to my parents' village, all these people telling me that they are impressed by me, it really makes me cry because they cannot imagine how beautiful they are in the middle of this very difficult life. And I wanted to sing that for them and to say thank you for being my source of inspiration."
Listen to the complete All Things Considered piece here: