Rokia Traoré says she’s not a traditional Malian singer. Listening to her album, Bowmboi, it’s clear she’s not contemporary rock-n-roll either. While difficult to pigeonhole, her music is easy to appreciate. BBC Radio endorsed Traoré’s music when they nominated her—three times—for a World Music award.
With Traoré’s new album “Tchamantché”, released in 2008, she adds another sound to her repertoire. The languages of the songs are still Bambara and French, but introduced with this recording, Traoré plays a Gretsch guitar. These vintage guitars were often used by classic rockers such as the Beatle’s George Harrison and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones.
Traoré’s website touts her latest release as dramatically different from previous work however I find that she can’t escape her decisively feminine voice with its precision and seductive undertones. She continues to use a wide mélange of instruments, but always includes traditional African sounds such as the n’goni.
Traoré plays at the Cedar Cultural Center on February 6th. Doors open at 7:00, show time is 8:00. For ticket information: http://www.thecedar.org