The first act for Glastonbury, the legendary music festival, has officially been announced by the Guardian. Rokia Traore the Malian singer will open the music fest. Also unique is the fact that every day of the festival will be opened with bands and other singers that are from the violence plagued country of Mali.
The act of solidarity to promote the Malian artists is part of an effort to help the out in the face of music’s current battle in Mali. Right now Islamists in the northern region of the country have banned music from being played, so a dance area has been revamped along with other parts of the festival venue to allow a heavy African presence to help prevail despite persecution back home.
Festival co-organizer Emily Eavis, stated that African acts have been playing at Glastonbury since the eighties and with such a long history they felt that it was important to show some solidarity with artists that are enduring problems and censorship in Mali. Eavis added that they traditionally try to stay away from the political landscape, but if they can offer musicians a platform to perform they will always do that.
Traore is a 38 year old female artist that hails from the north-western region of Mali and is one of the most well known performers in the country. She previously played Glastonbury in 2009. She stated that what has been happening in Mali as a result of the Islamic extremists is a tragedy although this week has brought some hope due to the intervention of French troops in Mali.
Traore added that all most people want to do is go back to living their normal lives, and music is a very large part of their every day culture because it has helped to unite different ethnic groups to make the country stand as one.
She also added that if something of this magnitude can happen in Mali it can occur anywhere in the world so they are happy that Glastonbury has offered Malian artists the stage to open people’s eyes to what is going on around the world.
Tickets for the Glastonbury festival are already gone having sold out in one hour when they went on sale last October. Several bands including Stevie Nicks and Keith Richards have expressed interest in playing, but as of yet only one headliner has been confirmed as booked and the identity of the band is unknown.