Malian singer, songwriter, guitarist and acclaimed actress Fatoumata Diawara, who will tour the UK next month, has appeared on Later with Jools Holland last night and will appear again on the extended version of the show on Saturday 27th October.
Mon 19th Nov – Gateshead – Sage Gateshead
Tues 20th Nov – London – EartH – SOLD OUT
Wed 21st Nov – Britsol- Fiddlers Club – SOLD OUT
Thu 22nd Nov – Manchester – Band on The Wall
Sat 24th Nov – Leeds – Belgrave Music Hall
Hailed as one of the most vital standard-bearers of modern African music, Fatoumata Diawara takes her artistry to fresh and thrilling heights on her new album ‘Fenfo’. Boldly experimental yet respectful of her roots, it’s a record that defines her as the voice of young African womanhood – proud of her heritage but with a vision that looks confidently to the future and a message that is universal
Her spectacular 2011 debut album ‘Fatou’ was hailed by Pitchfork as a “beguiling album” that “simply surrounds you with its atmosphere”, The Guardian described it as “spellbinding” and Gilles Peterson declared Fatoumata to be “one of the most exciting talents I’ve heard in a long time” making the Malian singer, songwriter, guitarist and acclaimed actress the most talked about new African artist of recent years. ‘Fenfo’, which translates as “something to say”, dramatically fulfills that promise on a set of vivid and original new compositions that draw on the rich experiences she has enjoyed since. “I’ve had so many different musical adventures since the last album, touring and working with so many other musicians and I think you can hear how all of that feeds into this record,” she says. “This is my time and I’m sharing my soul.”
The eleven songs on ‘Fenfo’ – sung mostly in Bambara – cover such timeless subjects as respect, humility, love, migration, family and how to build a better world for our children. “I didn’t want to sing in English or French because I wanted to respect my African heritage,” she explains. “But I wanted a modern sound because that’s the world I live in. I’m a traditionalist, but I need to experiment, too. You can keep your roots and influences, but communicate them in a different style.”
“Fenfo’ expresses how I feel and how I want to sound,” Fatoumata says. “It’s a record that says who I am.”
Diawara has previously worked with some of the biggest names in contemporary music. She recorded with Bobby Womack and Herbie Hancock; played Glastonbury and other major festivals; and toured/recorded with the Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca. She assembled a West African super-group featuring Amadou and Mariam, Oumou Sangaré and Toumani Diabaté to record a song calling for peace in her troubled homeland; and climbed aboard Damon Albarn’s star-studded Africa Express, which culminated in her sharing a stage with Sir Paul McCartney. Diawara most recently appeared at Carnegie Hall alongside David Crosby, Chris Thile, Snarky Puppy and others for an evening of topical protest music. Rolling Stones noted that “the singer and guitarist, originally from Mali, provided two of the night´s most striking moments. Her ode to the power of women ´Mousso´ sung in her native language, was hypnotic, and her captivating stage spins enhanced her anthem ´Unite´”.
Diawara was also recently featured on the single “Ultimatum” by acclaimed British electronic duo Disclosure. “A few months ago, we stumbled across an amazing female vocalist named Fatoumata Diawara,” explains Disclosure. “While digging through her discography we discovered this beautiful sample and started messing around, having fun and experimenting with it. The result is our new song, ‘Ultimatum.’”
Diawara continues to pursue a successful career as an actress, including an acclaimed appearance in 2014´s Timbuktu (Le chagrin des oiseaux), which received both BAFTA and Academy Award nominations, as well as working courageously as a social activist, campaigning against the trafficking and sale of black migrants in Libyan slave markets and recording the song “Djonya” (meaning ‘slavery’, in Bambara) in which she restates the universal, but often sadly disregarded truth that we all belong to the same human race regardless of colour, ethnicity or religion. She stars in Omar Sy’s new film “YAO”, due for release in January 2019.