Fatoumata Diawara: Fatou

August 19, 2015

5fc583_093ae2e87b7570c2b5a651ff10e7c738.jpg_srb_p_250_223_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srbElemental and Elegant

Listening Post 8. Mali, a landlocked nation on the edge of the Sahara, is a musical superpower. One of the most prodigious talents to emerge from the country is Fatoumata Diawara, an actress and singer-songwriter whose debut album keeps gaining steam. Released in North America in 2012, it attracted renewed attention after Diawara appeared in the 2014 Oscar-nominated film “Timbuktu.” Singing in Bambara, Mali’s most widely spoken language, Diawara uses her sensuous voice to express elemental concerns—not only the romance common in Western music, but also themes of hunger, war, intolerance, women’s rights and treatment of orphans. In Bissa, she tells the story of a woman who refuses an arranged marriage and also has difficulty finding a good man; video 1 has the added component of scenes from Paris (where the artist now lives) and Mali. The juxtaposed images echo Clandestin, which focuses on how the attraction of Europe robs Mali of so many productive people (video 2). Sonkolon rails against the marginalization of children who cannot speak for themselves. As the album’s 12 stirring tracks demonstrate, a lone performer can sing not only for herself, but also give voice to those who need it most. (World Circuit/Nonesuch Records)





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