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Tunes from the Rose of Bamako

In a country known for world class instrumentation and great female vocalists, mainly through recordings and performances from luminaries such as Oumou Sangaré and Fatoumata Diawara, Rokia Koné has emerged as one of the most innovative, experimental African singers on the international music scene. She used to perform in local Bamako bars, known as “maquis,” riffing off her grandmother’s songs, before she became known for her own soulful repertoire. Having risen to fame as a member of the feminist group Les Amazones d’Afrique, Koné has long been a campaigner for gender equality. An activist at heart, she has fought for justice, and created a musical style that is based on catchy melodic chants. She says that, growing up, she was always surrounded by music, and by musicians.