Boubacar Traoré has gone from being the voice of Mali to obscurity, and bounced back to become an internationally respected singer, guitarist, and songwriter -- all in all, not a bad career arc. Born in Kayes, in the sandy west of Mali, his passion as a boy was soccer, and his skills won him the nickname he still carries, "Kar Kar" (short for kari, kari -- meaning dribble). But music caught his attention, and the round ball faded into the background. He began sitting in with orchestras around Kayes (including the Orchestra Regional de Kayes), playing his guitar and singing, before moving to the country's capital, Bamako, to try his luck. In the '60s, following Mali's independence from France, it seemed as though he'd made the big time. Every morning Traoré would be on national radio, greeting the country with his song "Mali Twist," a love letter to the new nation. Everyone knew Kar Kar and his voice, although he never recorded, simply from from his appearances on the radio and in person.