Brighton Festival 2018Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

Guest Director


Malian singer, songwriter and guitarist Rokia Traoré, is regarded as one of Africa’s most inventive musicians, with her work rooted in the Malian musical tradition yet defying the confines of a single culture.

Her discography consists of six albums, released between 1998 and 2016.

Born in Mali to a diplomat father, Rokia had a nomadic upbringing that exposed her to a wide variety of international musical influences from Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, to Wagner, Serge Gainsbourg, and the Rolling Stones.

A protégé of the legendary guitarist Ali Farka Touré, Rokia’s breakthrough came in 1997 when she was hailed as the ‘African Revelation’ by Radio France Internationale.

Frequently collaborating with world-renowned artists such as Damon Albarn, Devendra Banhart and the Kronos Quartet, Rokia’s diverse output has also included a number of theatre performances, most notably the acclaimed Desdemona by Toni Morrison, a reimagining of Shakespeare’s Othello directed by Peter Sellars.

A dedicated humanitarian, in 2009 she set up the Foundation Passerelle in support of emerging artists amidst the social crises in Mali.

The inaugural Guest Director was visual artist Anish Kapoor (2009), followed by musician Brian Eno (2010), Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi (2011), actress and human rights campaigner Vanessa Redgrave (2012), poet, author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen (2013), choreographer, composer and performer Hofesh Shechter (2014), award-winning author Ali Smith (2015), pioneering artist and musician Laurie Anderson (2016), acclaimed recording artist, poet, playwright and novelist Kate Tempest (2017) and visual artist David Shrigley (2018)

2009: Anish Kapoor

Brighton Festival’s inaugural Guest Artistic Director…

2010: Brian Eno

Brian Eno's contribution to 2010's programme ranged…

2011: Aung San Suu Kyi

Brighton Festival celebrated liberty and freedom with…

2012: Vanessa Redgrave

Stage, screen and television actress, UNICEF Goodwill…

2013: Michael Rosen

Celebrated poet, writer, broadcaster and former Children's…

2014: Hofesh Shechter

This year the critically acclaimed choreographer,…

2015: Ali Smith

The 49th Brighton Festival Guest Director is award-winning…

2016: Laurie Anderson

Experimental artist and musician Laurie Anderson took…

2017: Kate Tempest

The Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2017 was…

2018: David Shrigley

Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2018 was David…

2019: Rokia Traoré

Malian singer, songwriter and guitarist Rokia Traoré,…