Saturday, June 14, 2014

African Musical Queen Rocks Fez

Under the shade of the giant barbary oak that dominates the Musee Batha, the slight frame of one of Africa's musical queens slipped on stage. Rokia Traore began strumming her guitar slowly and the audience quickly fell silent.

The solemn beat of her instrument was soon joined by other members of her band, one playing a guembri or sintir, a three stringed skin-covered bass plucked lute.

The Malian singer songwriter was born as a member of the Bamberra ethnic group. Her father was a diplomat and as a child she lived in several countries across the Middle East and Europe.

She describes her style as contemporary Malian music - a mix of her culture and a wide variety of influences from her nomadic childhood.

Hi octane backing singers

Rokia Traore's performance at the 20th edition of the World Sacred Music Festival included songs about Africa, its problems and its beauty from her recently released album. Beautiful Africa.

During a poignant moment she told the audience that she loved Africa and while there are many wars in Africa, if they all believed in beautiful Africa then everything will be alright. Having recently lived through the Islamist insurgency in Mali and the banning of music in parts of the north of the country, Rokia has previously said that this has only led to an explosion of music in her country. Today she sang with a deep sense of her heritage but also with optimism about the future of Mali and Africa

She performed her hit song Zen to a standing room only crowd. On the fringes some began dancing with the slow movement of their hips. One fan sitting centre stage rose to his feet, Rokia Traore acknowledged his enthusiasm, the two locked eyes and danced together.

Another of the songs she performed was Sarama, a tribute to women in Africa and the way they face their everyday life. She says these women are a source of inspiration to her as they smile through the challenges of life and never complain about their situation.

Her final song Tuit Tuit used trilling harmonies to imitate birds and was a perfect finale tying in with the festival's theme - the Conference of the Birds.  The Malian singer's voice took flight over the audience as they all rose as one, dancing to the beat of the music before exploding into wild applause as the afternoon came to an end.

It was a performance that wowed the crowd. Members of the audience described Rokia Traore as 'a fantastic live performer' that 'exceeded all expectations.'

"I really appreciate the mixture between occidental and African rhythms. She is TRUE!" Louisa, Spain

"I love this concert. It is everything I wanted between Sufi and African Culture. Today I am proud to be African and dance to Rokia's music."  Yumina, South Africa

"Fantastic! Here in Batha, nature and African heritage combine. There should be more people dancing to this wonderful music." Phil, Australia

Text: Stephanie Kennedy and additional material: Larry Marshall
Photography: Vanessa Bonnin 

Tomorrow 4pm at the Batha Museum: Luzmila Carpio from Bolivia 

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1 comment:

cristian martinus said...

Yes she did indeed wowed the audience. See for yourselves here: