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Boubacar Traoré

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Boubacar Traoré (born 1942 in Kayes, Mali) is a renowned singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Traoré also goes by the nickname Kar Kar, “the one who dribbles too much” in Bambara, a reference to his soccer playing: “a nickname I got from playing soccer when I was young. People would yell ‘Kari, Kari’ - dribble, dribble - the name stuck with me”.
Traoré first came to prominence in the early 1960s. He had taught himself to play guitar and developed a unique style that blended American Blues music, Arab music, and pentatonic structures found in West Africa’s Mande cultural region. He was a superstar in Mali and a symbol of the newly independent country (see History of Mali). His songs were immensely popular and he enjoyed regular radio play. However, he made no recordings, and since there were no royalties paid 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 died. 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.

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