Rokia Traoré is one of Africa’s most incredible female musicians to grace the international stage. She possesses a diverse range of talent, illustrated both in the astounding variety of her work and in her sheer range of voice. She was nominated for The New York Times critics’ album of the year for Wanita (an album she both wrote and arranged entirely on her own), won the prestigious BBC Radio 3 World Music Award with her album Bowmboi, and won Best Artist in the inaugural Songlines Music Awards in 2009. She performed at the “Africa Live” festival and wrote the music for Toni Morrison’s rendition of the play Desdemona. No big deal.
She is one of the few female musicians in her entire native country of Mali, one of West Africa’s most impoverished and conservative nations, to build a career in music. But recently, Mali has slipped into dangerous political chaos and Traoré is fighting to ensure that young women can find their own voices, amidst such violence, through the power of music.
Rokia’s story and voice deserve to be in the spotlight, so that is precisely what Laurens Grant has set out to do. Laurens, a 3-time Emmy and Peabody award-winning filmmaker and newly minted member of The Academy, has embarked on her next film: Rokia: Voice of a New Generation.
Laurens will put our AWB grant towards editing and licensing fees – for a song about Traorés heritage, ancestry, and becoming a strong leader (an element clearly essential to the film).
You can learn more about Laurens and her work here.