Rokia Traoré: Dounia




Rokia Traoré (vocals, guitar)


Tchamantché (Nonesuch)

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Rokia Traoré (vocals, guitar),

Mamah Diabaté (n’goni), Sibiri Koné (guitar), Seb Martel (guitar), Christophe “Disco” Minck (bass), Steve Shehan (percussion), Vincent Taeger (drums), Dianke Termessant (background vocals)


Composed by Rokia Traoré


Recorded: Leon, France, November 2007


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Mali is a landlocked nation that stretches from the Sahara in the north to Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso in the South. It is one of the poorest nations on earth—the average worker makes around $30 per week. But its musical riches are the rival of any other country on this sonically charged continent. This country has given us, to list a few names, Afro-pop star Salif Keita, guitarist Habib Koité, the exceptional band Tinariwen, kora master Toumani Diabaté, and the late Ali Farka Touré, in my opinion the finest of the African guitarists. But this music is sometimes cussedly difficult to track down. You might consider attending the famous Festival au Désert in Mali, but you may change your mind when you learn that you need to fly into Timbuktu, and then make the trek to Essakane deep in the desert, a trip that according to the festival web site is "difficult and potentially hazardous." Fortunately the music of Mali is increasingly available on CD. Even so, it would be worth a long trip to hear Rokia Traoré. This singer captures the hypnotic rhythms, crisp guitar playing and in-the-moment performance style that we have come to associate with the best of Malian music. This artist deserves to be far better known, and this release is a timely reminder that Mali still has musical riches to share.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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