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Album of the Week – ‘Né So’ by Rokia Traoré

‘Né So’ by Rokia Traoré (Nonesuch Records/Warner Music) is Eastside Radio’s Album of the Week.

Produced by John Parish (PJ Harvey, Tracy Chapman), ‘Né So’ (Home) is a raw and powerful sixth addition to the multi-instrumentalists recording career. The album travers seven years of inspiration starting from her travels back home in 2009 to Mali. Her three-year stay rocked the artist to her core as she bore witness to the horrors of ongoing civil war tensions and it’s consequences manifesting as their refugee crisis, all scenes she had been so sheltered from since leaving. The artists was also battling her own personal struggles at the time. In an interview about the album, Traoré says,“Experiencing life in a war-torn country was traumatic. I became aware of how naïve I had been…”.

The album process became a tool for the artist to contemplate on her traumatic experiences, and find a voice to fight back and regain her sense of strength and spirit she has built a career on. The process included bringing onboard a worldly array of musicians, as Traoré says, is important during the creative process to have a variety of opinions contributing to the work; “I didn’t want an all-Malian band. I need variety; I need a mix of cultures around me…You could say that Mali is where my roots are—it is where I take refuge in times of doubt, and where I accept risks when I must. Bamako was the place where I felt I would be both free and supported.” To give you an idea, notable musicians from the album’s core band include Burkinabe drummer Moïse Tuatara, Ivorian bassist Matthieu N’guessan, and Malian ngoni player Mamah Diabaté. The finished product showcases ten tracks of the artists journey towards enlightenment and personal growth, sometimes full of rich swelling vocals and uptempo rhythms, and others exposed and stripped back such as when the artist pays homage to one of her idols, Billie Holiday  with the iconic ‘Strange Fruit’, a chilling and heart wrenching performance. Her travels culminate in the final track ‘Sé Dan’ in which she takes the time to leave a lasting impression in the minds of her listeners as she affirms the need for global respect of one another.


Artist Listing:

Album Band:
Moïse Ouattara – Drummer
Matthieu N’guessan –  Bassist
Mamah Diabaté – Ngoni
Rodriguez Vangama and Stefano Pilia – Guitarists

Reggie Washington -bass guitarist

Bule Mpania, Russell Tshiebua, and Stefy Rika – Backing Vocalists

Guest Performances:
John Paul Jones, Toni Morrison, Devendra Banhart

Track Listing:

1. Tu Voles




5. Mayé


7.Ô Niélé


9.Strange Fruit

10.Né So

11. Sé Dan

You can follow Rokia Traoré’s career via her FACEBOOK page, or at http://www.rokiatraore.net. Be sure to tune in this week to 89.7FM EASTSIDE RADIO for your chance to WIN a copy of ‘Né So’ by Rokia TraoréYou must be a supporter to win so make sure to sign up at http://eastsidefm.org/support-us-2/. Don’t forget you can also stream the station at WWW.EASTSIDEFM.ORG.

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