Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Thursday 11 October 2018

Rokia Traoré: Brighton Festival 2019 Guest Director Revealed

Regarded as one of Africa's most inventive musicians, Malian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré has been named as the eleventh Brighton Festival Guest Director.
Credit Danny Willems

With her work rooted in the Malian musical tradition yet defying the confines of a single culture, Rokia Traoré"s unique sound and liberating style have led her to be described as "one of the world's great synthesisers, combining the rhythms and traditions of diverse cultures from Africa and Europe into a complex sound that only she could create". (Pitchfork)

Born in Mali to a diplomat father, Rokia had a nomadic upbringing that exposed her to a wide variety of international musical influences from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, to Wagner, Serge Gainsbourg, and the Rolling Stones. 

A protégé of the legendary guitarist Ali Farka Touré, Rokia"s breakthrough came in 1997 when she was hailed as the "African Revelation" by Radio France Internationale. 

Frequently collaborating with world-renowned artists such as Damon Albarn, Devendra Banhart and the Kronos Quartet, Rokia"s diverse output has also included a number of theatre performances, most notably the acclaimed Desdemona by Toni Morrison, a reimagining of Shakespeare's Othello directed by Peter Sellars. 


A dedicated humanitarian, in 2009 she set up the Foundation Passerelle in support of emerging artists amidst the social crises in Mali.

On her appointment as Brighton Festival Guest Director Rokia Traoré says:

"I knew Brighton Festival and how well organised it is and being part of the team and exchanging ideas about which artists will be performing and why is an interesting experience for me. 

"It is an opportunity to take the time to look at and to think about other artists' work. These are circumstances you cannot usually create when you are working as an artist, but programming a festival is another experience - you do it from a different angle."

"I'm excited, curious and enthusiastic about the journey. There are lots of things to learn from the city and the audience and the Festival itself and it"s going to be a very exciting and rich few months spent together."

Alongside exclusives, world and UK premieres from a wide range of international, national and local artists and companies, Brighton Festival 2019 will feature the UK premiere of Rokia Traoré's theatrical and musical project Dream Mandé Djata - a musical monologue structured around the griot tradition of oral history storytelling, interwoven with classical songs of the Mandingo epic history. 

The Festival programme will also feature appearances from some of Rokia's favourite Malian artists and musicians including a selection of those backed by the Foundation Passerelle.

Other programme highlights revealed today include Brighton Festival Commission and world premiere of a new choral work about motherhood and childhood created by theatre-maker Sheila Hill, Eye to Eye, featuring an intergenerational chorus of women and children recruited by Glyndebourne and featuring Glyndebourne Youth Opera; and a new commission, True Copy, based on the story of legendary Dutch painter and art forger Geert Jan Jansen by BERLIN, the international theatre company behind former Brighton Festival events Perhaps All the Dragons (2014), Land"s End (2012), and Zvizdal (2016).

This year's Festival will also see the launch of an extended Children and Young People's programming strand that will include new partnerships and participatory activities in the run-up to the Festival. 

These will join returning projects such as the 26 Letters Young People's Literature events, Adopt an Author and Young City Reads (presented in partnership with Collected Works), the Children"s Parade (produced in partnership with Same Sky), Without Walls, Peacock Poetry Prize, Guest Director's Guests, and Your Place - free performances and arts activities programmed by and for the communities of Hangleton and East Brighton, delivered in partnership with Brighton People's Theatre and community steering groups.    

Full programme details will be announced on Wednesday 13 February 2019.

by: Mike Cobley




Share    

Credit Natasa Leoni - XRFashion

Extinction Rebellion Brighton activists held a peaceful, socially distanced protest at Churchill Square to highlight the damaging impact fast fashion brands have on the climate.

As the frontman of both Cave Painting and Company, Sad Funeral's new single Kazbeg is hallmarked with Brighton musician Adam Kane's distinctive vocal flutter, yet finds him venturing into richly textured, mellow natured and deeply dreamy new territory as a songwriter. 

"I've been waiting this out,” says Wendy James, one-time fearless front woman of chart-topping alt-rockers Transvision Vamp, “always optimistic that Covid-19 dissolution might take less time than forecasted... but not so!"

Moy wrote and recorded second single No Talk's The Best Chat at the height of lockdown. Separated from his regular band, he discovered that collaborating on the track remotely was an unorthodox creative method given the live energy that's usually key to their work together.

Creature Creature can, via the imminent release of their first collection of self-penned tracks, Two Finger Tantrum, be labelled the new flag bearers of rock. The Brighton-based five piece have furrowed a new burrow at the summit of an age old genre. With this debut album they will be looking over their shoulders at the also-rans for many years to come.

Credit Nicole Nodland

On Sunset, Paul Weller's fifteenth solo album, which drops this Friday, sees one of the UK's most successful songwriters barely affected by the present situation that has placed the music industry, as much as the wider economy, largely on pause: “I haven't really been bothered by the lockdown, other than having to queue for food or medicine.” 
Credit Andy Sturmey

Taking place this weekend, Saturday 4th July 4th & Sunday 5th July, on what would have been the 2020 festival weekend, the Jazz FM's output will include live recordings from the Sussex-based, Love Supreme Jazz Festival

Returning after four years away, Aidan Knight's penchant for astute observations and personal reflections remains a compelling component of his songwriting.


Extinction Rebellion Brighton are 'delighted' that Brighton and Hove Council have won £663,000 in government funding to increase space for active travel in the city.
'In Monochrome' Artwork

Of all the formative experiences Stonehaven musician Fair Mothers, AKA Kevin Allan, had while growing up, reading The Stranger, by Albert Camus, stands out.

Katie Elfer & ‘I Want to be Red'

Few people miss the daily commute, as many employees switch to home working to tackle Covid-19. Katie Elfer, a regular train passenger from Brighton, used the journey time to write her first children's book which has just been published.

As fierce as the changeable weather itself, the ethereal tones of Serbian-Canadian musician Dana Gavanski can stir a breeze and destroy like a storm

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...







Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd