Boubacar Traoré

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Boubacar Traoré carries within him all the beauty of African blues. Only the voice of “Kar Kar” (a footballing nickname meaning “The Dribbler” given him by his friends, who also love the beautiful game) can blend Niger and Mississippi river alluvia with such moving authenticity. His unique, inimitable, self-taught guitar technique owes a great deal to his kora influences, but its shades and phrasing also suggest the great black bluesmen of the deep South: Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and others.

Back in the 60s when the euphoria of African independence reigned, the 20-year-old Boubacar Traoré was Mali’s Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley. He was the first to play Mandingo-based music on electric guitar, long before his junior, Ali Farka Touré. Hits including “Mali Twist” and “Kayeba” (recorded by National Radio and widely played) provided dance music for a generation who were enjoying freedom for the first time. In 1968, when Moussa Traoré overthrew Malian president Modibo Keïta, Boubacar Traoré, widely seen as an artist associated with the previous regime, disappeared from the airwaves. Returning penniless to Kayes, his hometown in the Kassonké region (to the northeast of Bamako near the Senegalese border), he became a farm worker, opened a shop with his elder brother - the one who had introduced him to the guitar and given him his first one - and worked to feed his family.

Content Related To This Artist

Review: Boubacar Traoré @ Rich Mix (London, 21st May 2015)

Boubacar Traoré, one of the most symbolic voices and guitarists of African blues graced Rich Mix and Serious Space Shoreditch with a remarkable performance. A minimal but revealing gig it was one that only musicians of his calibre could produce. There wouldn’t be African blues without Malian music, and Boubacar…

Artists: Boubacar Traoré


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