Our unsigned editorial from the evening’s program notes
It is not untoward or hyperbolic to apply the word magical to Malian music. Music is an integral part of the country’s culture, its societal structure, its entire way of life and way of being in the world. For an art form to play such an important role in the history and ethos of an entire nation is magical. And it follows that Mali is a country that has become known around the world for its extraordinary musicians.
The ancient griot tradition of Mali weilds roots that run deep and yet branch themselves across time and space, through generations and into hearts and minds of peoples of all races, creeds and religions around the world.
The modern musicians who share the blues-based music of Mali share with us their certain magic. A soul-stirring, uplifting, and yes, even sometimes heart-wrenching magic.
In 2012, Islamic extremists overtook Northern Mali, imposing harsh Shariah Law that included an attempt to ban music. Mali’s artists refuse to be silenced. This art, so magical, so integral to the culture of Mali, will not slip away thanks to the bravery, the artistry, the purpose and intention of the people who continue to create and share it with us.
Tradition and exploration coalesce in Rokia Traoré, who we are utterly delighted to present tonight with her full band. Rokia, like so many artists from Mali, serves as a bridge between worlds, between the modern and the ancient, between memory and reverie. Rokia’s music speaks a magical language, deftly traversing themes of hope as well as sorrow and defiance.
This evening has taken shape differently than we originally intended. One of Mali’s most-revered artists and a man who is known as one of the greatest instrumentalists in the world, Toumani Diabaté was set to appear with his son Sidiki as they toured in support of their recent album of duets.
Unfortunately, just yesterday we were informed by Toumani’s management that they have experienced unexpected personal and logistical difficulties to start the tour. These factors, complicated by Toumani’s poor health, have resulted in their inability to come to the States. Everyone deeply regrets the circumstances that have lead to this outcome. We are working with the artist’s management to review the feasibility of rescheduling this tour.
We’re very grateful you are here tonight to help us welcome Rokia Traoré to Royce Hall for the first time.
Make no mistake, she is going to rock this place.
Mali’s most precious assets are its music and culture, its traditional faith and the bonds that bind its many different peoples. And its artists have an innate ability to create ties that bind between us all.
That part of tonight’s performance is unchanged.
Thank you for joining us.