Power, Energy and Class from the Voice of Mali; WORLD

The Evening Standard (London, England), May 24, 2013 | Go to article overview

Power, Energy and Class from the Voice of Mali; WORLD


Byline: SIMON BROUGHTON

ROKIA TRAORE Cargo, EC2 ROKIA Traore is a sculptural presence on stage -- with her shaved head, figure-hugging dress and low-slung Gretsch electric guitar. She is one of the most intriguing and distinctive singers in Africa and will open the Glastonbury Festival on the Pyramid Stage next month as it pays homage to Mali, that most musical of African countries, in its times of distress.

I remember Rokia's first London performance at Soho's Pizza Express in 1999 and it was clear that she was going to become a star. Then her gentle, breathy voice was exquisite but vulnerable singing Mouneissa. Although still a slight figure, she is now a confident, powerful force at the centre of a powerful band mixing Western and African musicians.

Last night was a crowded and intimate gig -- a sort of album launch -- before her Glastonbury performance and a much bigger London show later in the year. Her new album, Beautiful Africa, is produced by John Parish, producer of PJ Harvey, and is much rockier than anything she's done before with four-tothe-floor drumming and lots of electric guitar. …

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