Jump to content

Fatoumata Diawara

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fatoumata Diawara
Fatoumata Diawara, August 2012
Fatoumata Diawara, August 2012
Background information
BornFebruary 21, 1982
Ouragahio, Ivory Coast
  • Singer
  • songwriter
Years active1999-present

Fatoumata Diawara (Bambara: ߝߊ߫ߕߎߡߕߊ ߖߊ߯ߥߙߊ߫, romanized: Fatumta Jawara, born 1982) is a Malian singer-songwriter currently[when?] living in France.

Diawara began her career as an actress in theatre and in film, including Genesis (1999), Sia, The Dream of the Python (2001) and Timbuktu (2014). She later launched a career in music, collaborating with numerous artists and releasing three studio albums beginning with 2011 debut Fatou. Diawara's music combines traditional Wassoulou with international styles.

Early life[edit]

Diawara was born in 1982 in the Ivory Coast to Malian parents. As an adolescent, she was sent back to their native Bamako in Mali to be raised by an aunt. When she was eighteen, Diawara moved to France to pursue acting. She briefly returned to Mali for a film role, but fled back to Paris to avoid being coerced into marriage by her family.[1]

Film and theatre[edit]

After moving to France, Diawara appeared in Cheick Oumar Sissoko's 1999 feature film Genesis, Dani Kouyaté's popular 2001 film Sia, le rêve du python, and in the internationally renowned street theatre troupe Royal de Luxe. She also played a leading role in the stage adaptation of the musical Kirikou et Karaba.[2]

Simultaneously with pursuing her musical career, Diawara has continued her cinematic activities, with numerous roles, appearances, and musical input in multiple feature films, including in Timbuktu, which won seven César Award nods and an Academy Award nomination in 2014.[3]

Musical career[edit]

Diawara took up the guitar and began composing her own material, writing songs that blend Wassoulou traditions of southern Mali with international influences.[4] She has said that she is "the first female solo electric guitar player in Mali".[5]

Diawara has performed or recorded with Malian and international stars such as Cheick Tidiane Seck, Oumou Sangaré,[6] AfroCubism,[7] Dee Dee Bridgewater (on Red Earth: A Malian Journey),[8] and the Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou.[9] The EP Kanou was released May 9, 2011. She wrote every song[10] on her debut album Fatou from World Circuit Records that released in September 2011.[11] (Nonesuch Records released the Kanou EP digitally in North America on September 27, 2011, and the album Fatou on August 28, 2012).[12]

In September 2012, Diawara was featured in a campaign called "30 Songs / 30 Days" to support Half the Sky, a multi-platform media project inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book.[13] September 2012 also saw her board the Africa Express Train with Damon Albarn, Rokia Traoré, Baaba Maal, Amadou & Mariam, Nicolas Jaar, and the Noisettes, amongst many others. The show culminated in a 4.5k venue in Kings Cross where Fatoumata performed with Paul McCartney.[14]

Diawara has spent recent years touring the world,[15] with a landmark performance for the English-speaking public at the 2013 Glastonbury Festival.[16] Alongside many European gigs, her schedule has taken her to South America, Asia and Australia,[17] as well as on multiple trips to the US, where in September 2013 she performed as part of the Clinton Global Initiative alongside The Roots in New York.[18] Since mid-2014 she has collaborated with Roberto Fonseca, with numerous live performances and a joint live album, At Home - Live in Marciac, along the way. In 2014 she also performed with Mayra Andrade and Omara Portuondo. February 2015 saw her first live concert as an established international star in Mali, her home country, Festival sur le Niger[19] in Ségou, where she shared the stage once again with her long-time friend and mentor, Oumou Sangaré,[citation needed] Bassekou Kouyate, and many other domestic Malian acts.

Diawara was featured in the 2020 Gorillaz single "Désolé", which later appeared on their album Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez.[20] She performed a Tiny Desk home concert in February 2022.[21] Later that year, she published the album Maliba, created as a soundtrack for a Google Arts and Culture project to digitise manuscripts held in Timbuktu. The album was characterised by The Economist as "a wondrous work of cultural preservation from one of the biggest names in contemporary African music".[22]


Noted for her "sensuous voice,"[23] Diawara sings primarily in Bambara, the national language of Mali, and builds on the tradition of "songs of advice" from the culture of her ancestral Wassoulou region.[24] In her songs, Diawara has addressed issues such as the pain of emigration; a need for mutual respect; the struggles of African women; life under the rule of religious fundamentalists, and the practice of female circumcision.[24] One song that exemplifies her focus on these topics is "Mali-ko (Peace/La Paix)", a seven-minute song and video that criticises the fundamentalist conquest of Northern Mali and urges unity to quell resentment against the Tuareg minority whom some blamed for abetting the incursion.[10] Diawara said about the song, ""I needed to scream with this song, 'Wake up! We are losing Mali! We are losing our culture, our tradition, our origins, our roots!'".[10]

Recognition and awards[edit]

She received two nominations at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album for her album Fenfo and Best Dance Recording for "Ultimatum" in which she was featured with the English band Disclosure.[25]


Fatoumata Diawara band performing at the World Beat Music festival. Austin, Texas, 2013

Stage performances[edit]



Singles and EPs[edit]


With Les Balayeurs du désert[edit]

Via association with Royal de Luxe; several of the songs had been played as accompaniment in Royal de Luxe's 'giant marionettes' street performances throughout the world.


  1. ^ "Fatoumata Diawara: Biografie". Fatoumata Diawara. Archived from the original on 2020-02-28. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  2. ^ Chabasseur, Eglantine. "Fatoumata Diawara Reinvented" Archived 2011-12-06 at the Wayback Machine, RFI musique, April 8, 2009, accessed June 8, 2011.
  3. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (2015-02-20). "'Timbuktu' Sweeps France's Cesar Awards". Variety. Archived from the original on 2019-07-19. Retrieved 2020-02-24.
  4. ^ [1] Archived 2010-11-11 at the Wayback Machine, BBC Radio 3, November 13, 2010, accessed June 8, 2011.
  5. ^ June 2020, Rod Brakes05 (5 June 2020). "Fatoumata Diawara: "When I started to play guitar, it resolved everything. It was like healing my soul"". Guitarist Magazine. Archived from the original on 2020-11-26. Retrieved 2021-02-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Cummings, Tim. "Oumou Sangare, Barbican Hall, London" Archived 2017-12-26 at the Wayback Machine, The Independent, April 28, 2009, accessed June 8, 2011.
  7. ^ Phillips, Glyn. "AfroCubism" Archived 2011-05-06 at the Wayback Machine, WorldMusic.co.uk, accessed June 8, 2011.
  8. ^ Stoudmann, Elisabeth. "Fatoumata Diawara: Nouvelle deesse malienne". Vibrations, June 2011
  9. ^ Denselow, Robin. "Orchestre Poly-Rythmo: Cotonou Club" Archived 2017-12-26 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, March 24, 2011, accessed June 8, 2011.
  10. ^ a b c McNicoll, Tracy (2013-02-05). "Fatoumata Diawara: A Malian Singer Fights Back Against Islamists". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 2020-10-20. Retrieved 2020-03-12.
  11. ^ Denselow, Robin (September 15, 2011). "Fatoumata Diawara: Fatou – review". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
  12. ^ "Fatoumata Diawara". Nonesuch.com. Archived from the original on 2013-09-14. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
  13. ^ "30 Songs / 30 Days for Half the Sky | Half the Sky". Archived from the original on 2012-10-14. Retrieved 2012-08-31.
  14. ^ Jonze, Tim (8 September 2012). "The African journey is over – but what an amazing ride". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2015-06-10. Retrieved 2013-11-18.
  15. ^ "Past Dates". Bands in Town. Archived from the original on 2014-05-03. Retrieved 2013-11-18.
  16. ^ Morgan, Andy (18 June 2013). "Mali hits Glastonbury: Rokia Traoré, Fatoumata Diawara and more". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2014-05-03. Retrieved 2013-11-18.
  17. ^ "Past Events". Bands in Town. Archived from the original on 2014-05-03. Retrieved 2013-11-18.
  18. ^ "2013 Clinton Global Citizen Awards". Clinton Global Initiative. Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-11-18.
  19. ^ Pryor, Tom. "Field Report: Festival Sur Le Niger 2015". Afropop Worldwide. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  20. ^ Blistein, Jon (2020-02-27). "Gorillaz Team With Malian Star Fatoumata Diawara for New Song 'Désolé'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  21. ^ O'Neill, Abby (3 February 2022). "Fatoumata Diawara: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert". NPR.
  22. ^ "The best albums of 2022", The Economist (1 December 2022).
  23. ^ Forgan, Kat. “Staff Brenda Bilili”. “Songlines”, July 2011, p.104-105.
  24. ^ a b "Singer and Guitarist Fatoumata Diawara to Perform in New York City | World Music Central.org". 18 February 2020. Archived from the original on 2020-04-22. Retrieved 2020-03-12.
  25. ^ "61st GRAMMY Awards: Full Nominees & Winners List". GRAMMY.com. 2018-12-07. Archived from the original on 2019-02-10. Retrieved 2020-02-24.
  26. ^ "TIMBUKTU - Festival de Cannes". Festival de Cannes. Archived from the original on 2014-05-16. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  27. ^ Spencer, Neil (6 May 2023). "Fatoumata Diawara: London Ko review – exuberance rules". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 3 July 2023.

Interview to Fatoumata Diawara during her tour 2022 in Zaragoza. Spain. Fatoumata Diawara: “my music is a combination of my roots interpreted from my modern perspective”

External links[edit]