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In 2016, the Malian singer released “Né So”, her sixth socially committed album. Rokia Traoré is a nomadic artist who spends her time between Brussels, Bamako, where she grew up (she was born in 1974 in the suburbs of the capital) and the US, where she regularly works. Rokia Traoré is one of those African artists that has embraced modernity and all the genres. Peter Sellars asked her to take part in the creation of “Desdemona” (2010). She was a member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015, and the trumpet player Erik Truffaz invited her to perform on his album “Doni Doni” (2016). In Bamako, she has set up a foundation to promote music and the performing arts. Produced, like the previous album, by John Parish (PJ Harvey, Eels), “Né So” is a politically committed record, woven with rock atmospheres and Mandinka melodies written after the tragic events of 2012 in Mali. But Rokia steers clear of pathos. In fact, this is what characterises her style: restraint and a sense of distance. With her zesty voice, alongside her backing singers and guests including Devendra Banhart and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), she sings in French, Bambara and also English, on Billie Holiday’s legendary “Strange Fruit”.

Line-up : Rokia Traoré (v, g), Mamah Diabaté (n’goni), Salimata Traoré (bkv), Stefano Pilia (g), Fabio Rondanini (dms), Massimo Pupillo (b), Massimo Cugini (sound engineer)

Photo : © Danny Willems

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