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The one who dribbles too much

Posted on August 7, 2011 by Julia Schiller

Boubacar Traoré live at La Cigale, Paris/France. March 4, 2011
Photographs © Julia Schiller

Boubacar Traoré is a musician from Mali, born in 1942, also known by his nickname “Kar Kar” meaning “The one who dribbles too much” – according to his style of playing football. Self-taught (with a little help from his brother, who was studying music in Cuba during the 50′s) Boubacar developed a unique style that blends American Blues music, Arab music, and pentatonic structures found in West Africa’s Mande cultural region (Kassonké).

During Mali’s struggle for independence in the early Sixties, he became a superstar singing his melancholic songs on public radio. Everybody in Mali from this generation knew his songs like “Kar Kar Madison”, “Mali Twist” and “Kayes Ba” in which he encouraged his landsmen to build a new, free Mali. Sadly in the 1970′s his fame began to fade, and with not having made any recordings and no royalties being paid, he had trouble surviving from his music alone, thus working as a tailor, a shop keeper and an agricultural agent to make ends meet.

In 1987, after twenty years absence from the stage, he was redicovered and played a show in Malian TV. Right after this, his beloved wife Pierrette died and Boubacar, weak and mourning, left Mali and went to France to support his six children by working as a constructor. Fortunately a british record producer discovered the tape from the Malian radio show and signed him right away, resulting in Boubacar’s first official record, which came out in 1990: “Mariama“.

Luckily we had the chance to attend one of his highly emotional live performances earlier this year at La Cigalle, Paris. It was a touching and memorable evening – Boubacar’s presence and energy on stage were simply overwhelming.

Boubacar Traoré on MySpace
Critique de l’album ‘Mali Denhou’
☞ “Je chanterai pour toi“, a film by Jacques Sarasin about Boubacar’s life

Tour Dates 2011:
Wed, Sept 21 – Chicago World Music Festival
Thu, Sept 22 – Chicago World Music Festival
Sun, Sept 25 – Brownfield, ME – Stone Mountain
Tue, Sept 27 – Brooklyn, NY – The Bell House
Wed, Sept 28 – Northampton, MA – Iron Horse
Thu, Sept 29 – Fall River, MA – The Narrows
Sat, Oct 1 – Montreal, QUE – L’Astral
Mon, Oct 3 – Toronto, ONT – Hugh’s Room
Wed, Oct 5 – Cambridge, MA – Church
Sat, Oct 22 – Lille, France – Magic Mirror (with Ndidi’o)

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