Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Track of the Week

Rokia Traoré – Finini

It has been a good year for Rokia Traoré, as far as success in a musical career can go. She released her 5th studio album, “Beautiful Africa”, and staged a tour that won praise both here, across Europe and in the USA. What is most striking about Traoré is the way she is being described at present. She is being solidified as one of the greats of Malian music. She is continuously being cited alongside legends such as Salif Keita and Ali Farka Toure and being heralded for her close association with the Africa Express and her performance at Glastonbury Festival. And though her most recent album has not been applauded by all with the same enthusiasm as in the past, its clear that Rokia Traoré has an enduring class about her work.

This week we roll back the clock to her first album “Mouneïssa“. It was made following a meeting and guidance by Ali Farka Toure, which could explain its more traditional orientation. However, Rokia’s knack for originality and breaking the mould is still easily identifiable. She hints of this with the pairing of the balaba – the large balafon of her region – and the ngoni an instrument favored by Bambara griots. In addition, the album also contains a blend of modern and traditional vocal techniques. This week’s track, Finini, is a great example of this.

Rokia Traoré – Finini


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