Malian singer Rokia Traore blends the traditions of her Bamana heritage with a modern singer-songwriter's approach to music-making.

Why you should listen

"Any goal must have a reason
Any success is based on a reason
Any failure is based on a goal without a reason."

These are the opening words, sung in Bambara, of the song "Kenia" from Rokia Traoré’s sixth album, Né So (“Home”). And perhaps they are the best way to encapsulate the Mali-born singer’s strength throughout her nearly twenty-year musical path, which includes a gorgeous performance at TEDGlobal 2007.

Having grown up as a diplomat’s child, Rokia had always been a traveller; but in 2009, she decided to move home to Mali. Three years later, she was the witness to a terrible war. “Experiencing life in a war-torn country was traumatic. I became aware of how naive I had been,” she confesses. "It’s never easy to go through tough times, but it is also what makes you grow.” The art of picking yourself up is what Né So is all about. Rokia Traoré started by writing and composing the songs alone. She then rehearsed in Bamako and recorded in Brussels and Bristol with musicians auditioned from the entire West African region -- as she says, “I need difference, I need a mix of cultures around me."

Rokia Traore’s TED talks

More news and ideas from Rokia Traore

TEDsters trek to WOMAD

July 27, 2009

Immediately after TEDGlobal 2009, a group of TEDsters took off for WOMAD at Charlton Park — the three-day world music festival founded by TED speaker Peter Gabriel (watch his talk from 2006). Sleeping in teepees, rocking all night … the pictures tell the story. Above, twilight bubbles, photographed by TED’s Lara Stein, director of the […]

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4 great talks for International Women's Day

March 8, 2009

To celebrate March 8, International Women’s Day, we suggest these four TEDTalks gems from some amazing speakers — artists, scientists and economists who think deeply about the role of women. Author and activist Isabel Allende discusses women, creativity, feminism — and the power of passionate thinkers and doers: The former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ngozi […]

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Rokia Traoré’s new record, Tchamantché

January 15, 2009

This week, the wonderful Rokia Traoré released her new record, Tchamantché, and it’s been rolling up glowing reviews. If you fell in love with Rokia’s smoky voice and her thoughtful, sensitive songs via her two songs on, or during her knockout set at Pangea Day last May, seek this record out. You can find […]

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