Rokia Traoré on bringing a flavour of Mali to Brighton Festival

Guest Director Rokia Traor - Picture: Fototala King Massassy
Guest Director Rokia Traor - Picture: Fototala King Massassy

Celebrated musician Rokia Traoré is excited about bringing Malian artists to Brighton Festival.

Speaking at the launch she said: “It is a fantastic opportunity for me to get involved and to be able to bring singers, dancers and photographers from Mali to people who wouldn’t usually be a part of it and for the audience to see something a bit different.”

Guest Director Rokia Traor - Pictures: Danny Willems

Guest Director Rokia Traor - Pictures: Danny Willems

Running from May 4 until the 26 the festival has more than 130 events across 25 venues. At the heart of this year’s festival is storytelling and through that showcasing diversity.

“It is about bringing people together - artists at different venues to audiences and showcasing a diverse range of events and people,” she said.

Rokia started her Foundation Passerelle in 2009, it provides rehearsal space and advice for Malian artists, some of which are taking part in the festival.

“There are so many artists in the foundation that it is hard as we can’t bring everyone but it is fantastic as we have so many projects that we can showcase our culture aboard.”

Acts including Ko Saba a six strong collective that combines three music styles from Malia and photographer King Massassy.

Rokia said: “His pictures are more than photos.

“He shows a humanity through his pictures to people who may never have seen that side before.”

Iron Men showcases the city of Bamako’s iron workers and the exhibition runs throughout the whole festival at Phoenix Gallery.

Andrew Comben, chief executive of Brighton Festival and Brighton Dome said: “It has been a privilege working with Rokia, her team and the artists she is bringing from Mali. We look forward to learning from her unique perspective.

“Everything she does has a purpose and something more to it, she has such a breadth of knowledge and even though she is a musician she covers such a broad spectrum.

“The festival is a great place for new experiences, meeting people and experiencing things you never have before.

“What Rokia was great at was being involved in every aspect, finding out about the artist and giving her view on their work.”

Rokia is also looking forward to spending more time in the city.

“I have been to Brighton years ago for a show, so I would come on the day, do the show and then leave so this has given me the opportunity to see more of the city.

“I will be back and forth over the festival but it is an important one in the UK so I was honoured to be involved, get that chance to see more of what the city has on offer.”

Tickets go on sale to members at 7.30am tomorrow (Thursday, February 14) and on general sale 9am, Friday, February 22 from Brightonfestival.org or 01273 709 709

Many events are free and more than 100 performances cost £10 or less.

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