Fatoumata Diawara | Mali
One of Mali’s biggest treasures; Fatoumata Diawara, has been sharing her heart-felt music with the World in an attempt to bring the oppression of her fellow Malian women to the forefront of Western thought. She has taken an ambassadorial role with her musical career, appearing as a shining beacon to many young women in Mali.
Born in Côte d’Ivoire to Malian parents, she fled her country in order to seek a better life in Paris. Fatou initially had dreams of being an actress and appeared in Cheick Oumar Sissoko’s 1999 feature film La Genèse, Dani Kouyaté’s popular 2001 film Sia,le rêve du python, in the internationally renowned street theatre troupe Royal de Luxe, and played a leading role in the musical Kirikou et Karaba. She later discovered the guitar and quickly began to write her own material, which would later propel her into the spotlight of the World Music circuit.
Her debut album ‘Fatou’ was released from World Circuit Records in 2011 and was widely acclaimed by critics. This was her opportunity to really begin highlighting the problems that females in Mali were facing with songs like “Boloko” that speak against female genital mutilation. You can also really feel the passion in her voice in the song “Sowa”, which is dedicated to children who grow up without knowing their parents. This was reflective of her past experience; forced to live with an aunt at age 12, without being able to see her parents again until she was 26. This album not only demonstrates her points of protest but also showcases her beautifully charismatic voice and musical ability, creating a fusion between Wassalou traditions of Southern Mali and other international influences. It is an album that is almost impossible to put down after the first listen.
Fatoumata Diawara recently delivered an awe-inspiring performance at Southbank’s Festival Hall. This concert was in celebration of international woman’s day and she had the chance to share the stage with one of a kind talent; Angelique Kidjo. These two musical activists knew how to deliver the perfect celebration for this wonderful event and were also able to relay their important messages to a delightfully responsive crowd.
Fatoumata is successfully paving her way towards a fulfilling career in music. Her combative nature doesn’t allow for her to stand idly by while the country she has most love for is in turmoil. With help from her fans and other Malian musicians, the music will be used as the perfect language to communicate her messages of protest. This unique individual is a spark of inspiration for people all over the World, showing just how much difference one person can make. You wouldn’t do wrong by expecting great things to continue to come from Fatoumata Diawara.
Written by: Teto Parvanov – TETO World Music Magazine