Friday, October 26, 2018
Monday, October 29, 2018 – with Ben Okri
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Artist-in-Residence Program, first initiated by IAAA in 1996, has become one of the most respected and well attended programs at New York University with audiences particularly attracted to the interdisciplinary nature of the programs. This semester we welcome Malian musician superstar Rokia Traoré. Through three programs curated by her, she shares her work, ideas and philosophy as an international arts and culture advocate who promotes making a positive difference through the creation of venues dedicated to the community, and through critical thinking through the arts and culture. Programs moderated by Michael E. Veal Professor of Ethnomusicology at Yale University.  All programs are free and open to the public.

Traoré Event 1: Main lecture with musical interludes

Friday, October 26, 2018 → 7 pm

Traoré discusses her professional artistic experience in Mali and how such experiences led her to understand how much the existence of cultural-artistic public spaces are needed in Mali and Africa to reinforce education and communication in the process of development and sociopolitical organization.

Traoré Event 2: Conversation with Ben Okri, with musical interludes

Monday, October 29, 2018 → 6 pm 

Traoré and special guest Ben Okri focus on how to improve spaces for Culture-Art in sociopolitical debates in Africa and discuss leadership and the philosophy of power.

Traoré Event 3: DREAM MANDÉ – DJATA performance

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 → 7 pm

Dream MandéDjata is a musical monologue written by Rokia Traoré. It is structured around the griot tradition of oral history story telling. At the same time, it is a modern project born out of inevitable changes to the form that can complement the past using contemporary concepts, a vision or contextualized perception that goes against tradition. The narrative of the show adopts part of the story of Soundiata Keïta and the empire of the Mandé. The text is told in French or English in the manner of the griots, interwoven with classical songs of the Mandingo epic history.

This event requires tickets. Please go to  to read more about ticketing policy.



All programs are free and open to the public.

Please RSVP for
Traoré Event 1: Main lecture with musical interludes on Friday, October 26, 2018 and
Traoré Event 2: Collaborative program with guest speakers, with musical interludes on Monday, October 29, 2018 at:  or (212) 998-IAAA(4222)
Please make sure to state the event name and date in your email.

For tickets for Traoré Event 3: DREAM MANDÉ – DJATA performance on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 please go to:
DREAM MANDÉ – DJATA performance will be free and general admission. Below is a breakdown of the free event process at NYU Skirball.
  1. Interested attendees will RSVP at
    • There is a 2 ticket per order limit.
    • All reservations will default to Hold at Box Office.
    • Confirmed reservations will receive an email stating: “Reservation does not guarantee a ticket. Tickets can be picked up at the NYU Box Office starting 2 hours prior to the event. We encourage you to arrive early as this event is general admission and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.”
  2. Starting 2 hours prior to the event, attendees can pick up their ticket at the NYU Box Office.
    • Physical tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
    • House opens 30 minutes before start of event. Seating is general admission, on a first-come, first-served basis.

For questions and more information please contact:  NYU Skirball Box Office please call 212.998.4941

Regarded as one of Africa’s most inventive musicians, Malian singersongwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rokia Traoré is known for the range of her powerful voice and the variety of her work, drawing upon African and American-European traditions. “It was rock music that made me want to learn to play guitar,” says Traoré. After studying in Brussels, Traoré returned to Mali and embarked on a musical career, making her breakthrough in 1997 when she was hailed as the “African Revelation” by Radio France Internationale. Frequently collaborating with world-renowned artists, she acted in and wrote the music for the 2011 Shakespeare-based drama, Desdemona, by Toni Morrison and Peter Sellars. Her sixth album, Né So, was released in 2016.

A dedicated humanitarian currently based in Mali, Traoré was awarded the inaugural Roskilde Festival World Music Award in 2009 for her work with her Fondation Passerelle, which trains young Malian musicians. She was a member of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival Jury and of the 2014– 2015 Rolex Arts Initiative Advisory Board. She received critical acclaim at Avignon Festival 2017 and Zürcher Theater Spektakel 2017 with her new musical theatrical creation, Dream Mandé Djata in which she pays tribute to the ancient art of the griots of West Africa and, accompanied by two musicians, tells the epic of Emperor Sundiata Keita in 13th-century Africa.

In Bamako, her Fondation now comprehends a music venue, Blues Faso, open in October 2017, with a program of live music, dance, theatre and talks.

Michael E. Veal is Professor of Ethnomusicology at Yale University. Veal’s work has typically addressed musical topics within the cultural sphere of Africa and the African diaspora. His biography of the Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Fela: The Life & Times of an African Musical Icon (2000), uses the life and music of this influential African musician to explore themes of African post-coloniality, the political uses of music in Africa, and musical and cultural interchange between cultures of Africa and the African diaspora. His documentation of the “Afrobeat” genre continued with the as-told-to autobiography Tony Allen: Master Drummer of Afrobeat (2013). Professor Veal’s study of Jamaican dub music, Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae (2007), examines the ways in which the studiobased innovations of Jamaican recording engineers during the 1970s transformed the structure and concept of the post-WWII popular song, and examines sound technology as a medium for the articulation of spiritual, historical and political themes. His forthcoming book Wait Until Tomorrow surveys under-documented periods in the careers of John Coltrane and Miles Davis that encapsulate the stylistic interventions of “free jazz” and “jazz-rock fusion,” and draws on the language of digital architecture in order to suggest new directions for jazz analysis. He is also a bassist and saxophonist and leader of the Aqua Ife big band.

Ben Okri  is a writer who has published novels, collections of poetry, short stories, essays and plays. Since he published his first novel, Flowers and Shadows (1980), Okri has risen to an international acclaim, and he often is described as one of Africa's leading writers. His best known work, The Famished Road, which was awarded the 1991 Booker Prize, along with Songs of Enchantment and Infinite Riches make up a trilogy that follows the life of Azaro, a spirit-child narrator, through the social and political turmoil of an African nation reminiscent of Okri's remembrance of war-torn Nigeria. Other fiction includes Astonishing the Gods (1995), Dangerous Love (1996), which was awarded the Premio Palmi (Italy) in 2000,   In Arcadia (2002), Starbook (2007), and The Age of Magic (2014). His poetry collections includes An African Elegy (1992) and Wild (2012.  His collection of essays include, A Way of Being Free (1997) and A Time for New Dreams (2011).  Okri is also the author of the play, In Exilus. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has been awarded the OBE as well as numerous international prizes, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Africa, the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction and the Chianti Rufino-Antico Fattore. He is a Vice-President of the English Centre of International PEN and was presented with a Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum. He was born in Nigeria and lives in London.