je chanterai pour toi

It’s one of those things I’ve been dying to tell you about … and now I am here in front of my computer and I don’t know how to start…

Well, I think it took me 10 years to understand the meaning of Kar Kar in Boubacar “Kar Kar” Traoré‘s name. KarKar is said to be a Bam(b)ara expression for someone who “goes in between” (to dribble @playing soccer), as it is explained in the beginning of this very fine DVD I eventually received yesterday. Eventually, because in 2003, I discovered that there’s a new documentary called “je chanterai pour toi” (I sing for you) by Jacques Sarasin about Boubacar Traoréle grand magicien du blues malienne, this great musician from Mali who happened to be touring the African continent way back in 1995 – sponsored by the Alliance Francaise (~French Cultural Centre). It took them two years to release it as a DVD and so now I am the proud owner of my very first DVD (yes!! :-)). In fact, the man has been in good old Nairobi in 1995 and that’s when & where I got my first tape of this lovely music. I kept on listening to this tape for hours and days and weeks and months and about a year after that, I got my hands on KarKar’s only available CD “sa golo”. That was in the end of 1996. Later on, the passionate collector in me came across the rest of Boubacar’s discography (+ concerts) and so when I first read about this movie, I was very excited. I *needed* it desperately.


Le monde est fait pour qu’on s’aime.

KarKar is a man of faith. He isn’t directly interviewed, instead, his friends talk about him and describe his biography. They tell us about his lovely wife Pierette who has died and to whom he sings his sweetest songs. They tell us about Mali’s independence and Boubacar’s role in it – his tune “Mali twist” which used to be a great hit on Mali’s Radio. And they also show us what Boubcar KarKar Traoré’s music is all about: love.

It takes a lot of love and passion for a man that doesn’t come from a Griot background to compose and sing such fine tunes. Of course those pentatonic tunes do have a strong historical background – or as friend of mine (from Mali) once told me: “KarKar uses those old melodies that are believed to be our national heritage. He has given them a new meaning”. Think of Ayub Ogada from Kenya (playing his nyatiti) and you have the picture.

When I first checked the Internet about anything on “Boubacar Traoré” way back in 1996, there were only a handful (3-5) sites covering his name. And now the inet is full of interesting information and music, so if this has attracted you to listen into some fine sort-of-blues-music from Mali, and in case you’re still unfamiliar with names like Ali Farka Touré, Rokia Traoré or Amadou et Mariam (to name just a few popular), go and get it!

There are some musicians that put a lot of energy into their music, something you feel, something that really touches you the moment you hear it. For me, Boubacar “KarKar” Traoré is one of those magicians…

Author: jke

Hi, I am an engineer who freelances in water & sanitation-related IT projects at You'll also find me on Twitter @jke and Instagram.

7 thoughts on “je chanterai pour toi”

  1. Hey I have not yet heard the music of Boubacar Traore – any chance of sending me a track, JKE? That photograph at the top is just cool:).

    Ali Farka Toure will always have a special place in my heart. Amadou et Mariam are just superb. One thing though – I just cannot stand Rokia Traore’s voice – there is something there that just does not feel quite right (to my ears, at least)…

    One day you and I must compare our African music collections, JKE:)

  2. You got mail, Mshairimoja :-)
    Talking about pictures – here are some more:




    The last one showing BT with Ali Farka Touré. One might think the man has been a ROCKER once and now, with his traditional & comfy clothes and that laid-back style, things might have changed…Naaaa…I don’t think so. He’s still a Rolling Stone :-)

  3. wow. I want! I want. I think i have heard his music in one of the Africa compilation CD’s i have, but there is so much more as you have detailed here. I love Ayub Ogada’s music too, i wish i understood every word that these ‘magicians’ say. Its a wonderful thing. Can one order the DVD online? If so where?

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