and affectionately known as Kar Kar, Boubacar Traoré
is Mali's legendary blues guitarist. He has been in and out
of the musical limelight a number of times in the last 40 years.
His nickname came about because when he played soccer people
called out 'Kari, Kari' meaning 'dribble, dribble'.
Kar Kar grew up in the 1940s in Kayes, part of the Bambara region
of Mali. His musical influences at that time were kassonke,
a local traditional style, and American blues. Also his brother
went to Cuba to study music and on his return he helped Boubacar
learn guitar. His style of guitar playing can actually be compared
to the kora.
At the time of Mali's independence in the 1960s, Kar Kar's music
was always on the radio first thing in the morning so he became
a national figure. His greatest hits were 'Kar Kar Madison',
'Mali Twist' and 'Kayes Ba'. His compositions have great depth
of feeling and cannot even be explained. As well as playing
music, Kar Kar had some small businesses such as farming and
tailoring to support his family. He stayed away from the active
music scene for a number of years then in 1987 made a comeback
when he performed on TV in Mali, much to the delight of his
Tragedy came his way about 2 years later when his wife Pierette
died. Wanting to start anew away from Mali, he decided to move
to France and worked in the construction industry but he still
played music in the evenings.
A keen music producer found Boubacar
in Paris and gave him the opportunity
to record an album.
albums are Sa Galo (1996), Macire
(1999), Kar Kar (1992), Je
chanterai pour toi (2002),
Kongo Magni (2005) and Mali Denhou (2011).
He recorded Mali Denhou
at Salif Keita's Studio
Moffou near Bamako. One
of the tracks on The
Best of Boubacar Traoré
'Mancipera' on which he joins Rokia Traoré,
although they both bear the name Traoré,
Boubacar and Rokia are not related.
After the years in France Boubacar went back to Mali where he
still lives and enjoys farming but he takes the opportunity
to tour internationally. He was on stage during London's African
Music Festival in 2005.
An outstanding film, Je chanterai pour toi, about Boubacar's
life was released in 2001 and is now available in DVD format.
Check out the website which has some valuable photos from the
1960s and more information about the film: www.jechanteraipourtoi.com