Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara has grown to become one of the most important vocalists of her generation to come out of Africa.
She is often described in terms of her voice. It’s soulful, sensuous, poignant and passionate. But perhaps the foundational qualities she brings to her music are wisdom and independence.
The Malian musician has performed around the world and collaborated with other artists; played a key role in the Oscar-nominated film Timbuktu and formed a supergroup of Malian musicians to sing for peace during the country’s civil war.
Her style is influenced by Wassoulou music, a West African genre that helped inspire American blues. It was on her second album Fenfo from 2018 (see some stellar reviews here) that she moved away from the intimate sound laid out on her debut album Fatou (2011). Instead, she moved towards bold, tension-building songs with a funky, sizzling backbone.
What hasn’t changed is her social consciousness. Her songs deal with immigration policy, domestic abuse, and cultural assimilation. She perfectly balances thorny topics with gorgeous songwriting.
Tall and sculptural, Fatoumata Diawara is a majestic presence on a live stage. Equipped with the guitar and her voice and joined by a well-playing band, her songs are given beautiful shine live. Just have a look at a clip from her show at Roskilde 2019.
The Malian singer is joined on stage by Yael Naim
Yael Naïm is a French-Israeli singer-songwriter. You may know her breakthrough hit “New Soul” (2007) which went straight to top 10 in the US (and in France, of course). Naïm sings in both French, English and Hebrew, and she has even taken Britney Spears’ “Toxic” into a whole other direction. In 2020, she released her latest album, Nightsongs.