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Rokia Traoré: Music of Mali

February 16, 2009 at 1:46 pm
By Margaret Taylor '10

Carleton had the privilege of hosting a concert by Rokia Traoré, an award-winning Malian singer, midterm weekend.  As it took the coordinated effort of several campus groups and departments to lure her band here, this event was much more than just a warmup to Midwinter Ball.

Traoré’s music is a creative fusion of traditional Malian themes and Western influences.  At the concert bandmembers played guitars and a Western drum set as well as a karimba and a ngoni, and the vocals were in English, French, and Bambara.  The music had complex rhythms and was very, very boogieable: in fact, a few songs into the concert, members of the African Students Association (who’d worn caftans for the occasion) got up and started dancing.  The rest of the concert hall followed them soon after.

The music ranged from playful to deep.  Traoré ended the concert with a song with a message: “migration is not the solution.”  Many people in Africa leave the continent to go to college and then never come back.  Traoré wants to use her music to encourage people to do as much good as they can where they are, and help make Africa a better place.