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Fatoumata Diawara

Fatoumata Diawara is an acclaimed Malian singer, songwriter, and guitarist whose music draws from her ancestral Wassoulou culture, but also incorporates vibrant Afro-pop, desert blues, and a panoply of other styles. Based in France, she is also a well known actress who had already assembled an impressive filmography before releasing her debut album, 2011's Fatou, on the World Circuit label. The album was a critical success and over the coming years she balanced her concurrent acting career with global tours, appearances at major festivals like Glastonbury, and performing with stars ranging from Bobby Womack and the Roots to Toumani Diabaté. Her sophomore album, Fenfo (Something to Say), appeared in 2018 and was followed by collaborations with European artists like Disclosure and Gorillaz. Diawara's collaborative nature was further emphasized on 2023's London Ko, an album that featured guests like Damon Albarn, Angie Stone, and Yemi Alade. Diawara was born in Côte d'Ivoire to Malian parents and during her adolescence moved to Mali's capital city, Bamako. She began acting at a young age and appeared in her first film role at 14. By age 18 she had relocated to Paris and continued to act, working with the French theater troupe Royale de Luxe and appearing in films like Genesis (1999) and Sia, The Dream of the Python (2001). By the late 2000s Diawara was also an accomplished musician, playing guitar and singing original folk songs rooted in Wassoulou traditions. She toured as a backup singer for Malian icon Oumou Sangaré who helped her land a record contract with World Circuit. She made an auspicious debut with 2011 Fatou, a collection of elegantly written folk songs, sung mainly in Dambara, that featured prominent players like drumming legend Tony Allen, kora master Toumani Diabaté, and English bassist John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. It was widely hailed by critics and effectively launched her onto the international stage. In addition to her own tours and appearances at global festivals like Glastonbury, she sang on albums Cuban pianist Robert Fonseca, American R&B singer Bobby Womack, and Ethiopian jazz great Mulatu Astatke. She also stayed busy as an actress, appearing in the 2014 Oscar-nominated film, Timbuktu. Diawara's second album, Fenfo (Something to Say), was released in 2018 and saw her branching out into different sonic territories from smooth Afro-pop to blues. It also reflected her activism with its themes of migration, marriage bans, and African identity. Collaborations with Disclosure ("Ultimatum" and "Douha (Mali Mali)") and Gorillaz ("Désolé") followed, as did a role in the 2019 film Yao. For her third album, Diawara pegged Gorillaz' Damon Albarn to co-produce. The two first met in 2012 when Diawara joined Albarn's Africa Express Train tour and remained friends and collaborators. Released in 2023, London Ko was also co-written by Albarn and saw Diawara continuing to explore her sonic range with electronic pop, organic guitar romps, and guest spots from Angie Stone, M.anifest, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.
© Timothy Monger /TiVo
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15 album(s) • Sorted by Bestseller

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