Mali Music Star's New York Performance

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[Entertainment: Music]

Mali's entrancing singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré, celebrated for her distinctive vocal stylings, outspoken lyrics and powerful live shows, is one of West Africa's most lauded voices and will be at the Highline Ballroom, 431 West 16th Street --between 9th & 10th Avenues-- NYC, this Saturday April 17th at 7PM.

Called “the experimental diva of Africa” (The Guardian, UK), she blends modern sounds with centuries-old traditions, enthralling audiences around the world. Her program features selections from her striking new album Tchamantché (Nonesuch), which has met with international critical acclaim.

Covering a wide variety of topics, the album includes the compelling “Tounka,” which deals with the problem of illegal immigration from Africa to Europe; the stirring “Dounia,” which reminds Malians that they should be proud of the glories of their past; the personal and rhythmic “Zen”; and the infectious “Yorodjan” in praise of African street parties.

Rokia Traoré is among the most adventurous singer-songwriters in Africa. Fluent in several languages, she sings almost exclusively in her native Bamanan, a language particularly rich in metaphor and texture.  Her socially conscious lyrics often urge women, in African and elsewhere, to find their strength and transcend the confines of conventional gender roles.  Rokia, whose father was a Malian diplomat posted to the US, Europe, and the Middle East, studied in Brussels and performed in a rap band before deciding to go back to Mali to create the music she wanted - “not pop, not jazz, not classical but something contemporary with traditional instruments.” 

She recorded four albums, including her latest, Tchamantché, and the 2003 Bowmboi, where she collaborated with the Kronos Quartet.  In 2006, she wrote and performed a new work for Vienna's New Crowned Hope Festival, which was curated by Peter Sellars in celebration of the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birthday.  In her song, Mozart was born as a griot (hereditary praise singer and oral historian) in the time of the great 13th century Mande ruler Soundiata Keita.

This program is made possible in part with public support from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. Additional funding is provided by
American Express.

These are some of the praises of Rokia: “Her voice transforms everything it touches.  Sometimes caressing, sometimes keening, it is as agile as some rare desert bird.”--The Times, UK

“…a secret dynamo…the incredible Traoré was in command of stage, song and crowd alike.”--Chicago Tribune

“Occasionally an artist breaks out of the world music scene and becomes a star defying any categorizations. Rokia Traoré is one such artist.”--BBC Radio

Tickets: $28; students $18   (866) 468-5994   Info/tickets (212) 545-7536

For video, please visit

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