Brighton Festival and Rokia Traoré: what you need to know

Rokia Traor Group DANNY WILLEMS
Rokia Traor Group DANNY WILLEMS

Rokia Traoré is this year's Brighton Festival guest director

Rokia Traoré was born in January 1974 in Kati, on the outskirts of Bamako, the capital of Mali.

Rokia Traoré is the founder and president of the Fondation Passerelle in Bamako. Supporting the musical and artistic creation in Mali, the Foundation organises musical training courses and supports multidisciplinary artistic creations along with talks and debates about Malian society, culture, youth and the challenges they face.

Rokia Traoré's father, a Bambara from the region of Bélédougou, was a diplomat. She travelled extensively during her youth: Algeria, Saudi Arabia, France and Belgium, where she studied.

Her identity is deeply rooted in West Africa Mandinka culture. Yet, when Rokia began to learn music, it was easier for her to play guitar and write texts in French or English and dream about rap or rock than participate in weddings during which the traditional griot songs are interpreted. Indeed, being considered a noble Bambara, Rokia Traoré was not deemed to have the right to learn and sing the songs of the griots.

She has since won the ‘Découverte Afrique’ Award from Radio France Internationale (RFI), a BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards, a Victoire de la Musique (French Music Award), and Best Artist Award at the Songlines Music Awards in London.

About Brighton Festival

The largest and most established annual curated multi-arts festival in England, Brighton Festival is a celebration of music, theatre, dance, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events - taking place in venues both familiar and unusual across Brighton & Hove for three weeks every May.

Established in 1967, Brighton Festival has become one of the city's most enduring symbols of inventiveness over the past half century.

Since 2009, Brighton Festival has attracted inspiring and internationally significant Guest Directors who bring cohesion to the artistic programme. The inaugural Guest Director was Anish Kapoor (2009) and has subsequently included prominent cultural figures such as Brian Eno (2010), Laurie Anderson (2016), Kate Tempest (2017) and David Shrigley (2018).

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival produces the annual Brighton Festival and also manages the three venues of Brighton Dome year-round.

Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, the Royal Pavilion & Museums, and Brighton & Hove City Council are currently working together to restore and reunite the historic Royal Pavilion Estate buildings and garden, starting with a major refurbishment of Brighton Dome Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre. For more information visit

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