Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Track of the Week

Boubacar Traoré – Sa Golo

“Boubacar Traore’s stately, affecting acoustic guitar and unpretentious, story-led vocals are just about as satisfying as it gets in downtown Bamako” – John Armstrong

Boubacar Traoré’s rise to fame has been pitted with difficulties. Its a story that reads similarly to Issa Bagayogo’s; a talented young man gets a lucky break when he takes a chance do forge a music career in Bamako. During immediate post-independence from France in the 1960’s “it seemed as though he’d made the big time. Every morning Traoré would be on national radio, greeting the country with his song “Mali Twist,” a love letter to the new nation.” Again, like Issa, this success didn’t translate into income, and Traoré was left unable to pay the bills or feed his family. Years of hard times and unstable employment followed and his music was relegated to a mere hobby. The sudden death of his wife in 1987 was an awful moment, and has been described as a turning point in Boubacar’s life path. With many of his children already in adulthood, he moved to France and laboured away alongside other Malians in construction sites.

He began playing again and was eventually sought out by an British producer. Boubacar produced his first album at the end of the 80s and began touring in the early 90s, with good success. Other albums followed, through to his most recent in 2011 entiteld ‘Mali Denhou’.

Like “Techno-Issa”, Boubacar Traoré has his own nickname. Boubacar goes by the nickname Kar Kar or “the one who dribbles too much” in the language of Bambara in reference to his child-hood football playing.  As he describes, Kar Kar is “a nickname I got from playing soccer when I was young. People would yell ‘Kari, Kari’ – dribble, dribble – the name stuck with me”.


Boubacar Traoré – Sa Golo

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