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Boubacar Traoré

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Biography

Boubacar Traoré (born 1942 in Kayes, Mali) is a renowned singer, songwriter, and guitarist.

Traoré, nicknamed “Kar Kar” (“the one who dribbles too much” in Bambara, a reference to his soccer playing), first came to prominence in the early 1960s. He had taught himself to play guitar and developed a unique style that blended blues, Arab music, and kassonké, a style native to the Kayes region. He was a superstar in Mali and a symbol of the newly independent country. His songs were immensely popular and he enjoyed regular radio play. However, he made no recordings, and since there were no royalties payed to musicians, he was very poor and had to work odd jobs to make ends meet.

During the 1970s Traoré’s popularity faded, until a surprise television appearance in 1987. Soon after this “rediscovery,” Boubacar’s wife passed away. Grief-stricken, he moved to France and did construction work to support his six children. While there, a British record producer discovered a tape of one of Traoré’s radio performances, and he was finally signed to a record deal. His first album, Mariama, was released in 1990. Since then, Traoré has enjoyed international popularity, touring Europe, Africa, and North America.

Boubacar Traoré was the subject of the 2001 film Je chanterai pour toi (“I’ll Sing For You”), released on DVD in 2005.

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