Rokia Traoré is the Fall 2018 Artist-in-Residence at the Institute of African American Affairs & Center for Black Visual Culture, NYU. For information about other events curated by Traoré please visit: https://nyuiaaa.org/
Dream Mandé – Djata is a musical monologue written by Rokia Traoré. It is structured around the griot tradition of oral history story telling. At the same time, it is a modern project born out of inevitable changes to the form that can complement the past using contemporary concepts, a vision or contextualized perception that goes against tradition. The narrative of the show adopts part of the story of Soundiata Keïta and the empire of the Mandé. The text is told in French or English in the manner of the griots, interwoven with classical songs of the Mandingo epic history.
Regarded as one of Africa’s most inventive musicians, Malian singersongwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré is known for the range of her powerful voice and the variety of her work, drawing upon African and American-European traditions. “It was rock music that made me want to learn to play guitar,” says Traoré.
After studying in Brussels, Traoré returned to Mali and embarked on a musical career, making her breakthrough in 1997 when she was hailed as the “African Revelation” by Radio France Internationale. Frequently collaborating with world-renowned artists, she acted in and wrote the music for the 2011 Shakespeare-based drama, Desdemona, by Toni Morrison and Peter Sellars. Her sixth album, Né So, was released in 2016.
A dedicated humanitarian currently based in Mali, Traoré was awarded the inaugural Roskilde Festival World Music Award in 2009 for her work with her Fondation Passerelle, which trains young Malian musicians. She was a member of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival Jury and of the 2014– 2015 Rolex Arts Initiative Advisory Board. She received critical acclaim at Avignon Festival 2017 and Zürcher Theater Spektakel 2017 with her new musical theatrical creation, Dream Mandé Djata in which she pays tribute to the ancient art of the griots of West Africa and, accompanied by two musicians, tells the epic of Emperor Sundiata Keita in 13th-century Africa. In Bamako, her Fondation now comprehends a music venue, Blues Faso, open in October 2017, with a program of live music, dance, theatre and talks.