New York City, USA – Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré returns to the U.S. this spring in support of her most recent album, Tchmantché. She brings her acclaimed live performance to seven East Coast cities — including New York and Washington, DC — from April 10–18 (full dates below).
Tchmantché stems from a simple inspiration—the sound of an old Gretsch guitar—and employs a traditional pop rhythm section. The instrumentation is often sparse, contrasting the Gretsch or the classic Silvertone guitar with subtle percussion effects provided by human beat box and hip-hop artist Sly Johnson, or the n’goni—the tiny, sharp-edged West African lute that has always been an integral part of her sound—played alongside the Western classical harp.
Traoré composed all the songs on Tchmantché, with the exception of the Billie Holiday classic “The Man I Love,” a song she first sang in a duet with Dianne Reeves during the Billie and Me tour in 2005. Known for her outspoken lyrics, Traoré covers a variety of topics on her new record. She discusses the problem of illegal immigration from Africa to Europe in “Tounka,” and, in “Dounia,” reminds Malians that they should be proud of the glories of their past. “Zen” is a song about having the courage to do nothing, and “Yorodjan” was written in praise of African street parties.
The daughter of a Malian diplomat who was posted to the US, Europe, and the Middle East, Traoré studied in Brussels and performed in a rap band before deciding to go back to Mali to create the music she wanted, which was to be “not pop, not jazz, not classical but something contemporary with traditional instruments,” as she says. Her previous album Bowmboï included collaborations with the Kronos Quartet, and in 2006, she wrote and performed a new work for Vienna’s New Crowned Hope Festival, which was curated by Peter Sellars.
Rokia Traoré in Concert
Saturday, April 10
Raleigh, NC: Stewart Theatre, NC State University
Sunday, April 11
Washington, DC: Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University
Wednesday, April 14
Amherst, MA: Fine Arts Center, University of Massachusetts
Thursday, April 15
Hanover, NH: Spaulding Auditorium, Dartmouth College
Friday, April 16
Somerville, MA: Somerville Theatre
Saturday, April 17
New York, NY: Highline Ballroom
Sunday, April 18
Burlington, VT: Flynn Center