Fatoumata Diawara

Biography


From the very beginning, Fatoumata Diawara, usually just known as ‘Fatou’, was headstrong, determined and talented. Before turning to music, she had major acting roles in film and theatre. Her rise on the music scene was swift – from releasing her debut Fatou (2011), to being THE new voice in West African music took just five years.

Fatou was born to Malian parents in the Ivory Coast in 1982. As a child she became a member of her father’s dance troupe, performing the wild didadi dance from Wassoulou, her ancestral home in western Mali. Her refusal to go to school prompted her parents to send her, aged 11, to be disciplined by an actress aunt in Bamako. She didn’t see her parents again for over a decade.

Spotted on the set of a film her aunt was acting in, she was given a one line part in Taafe Fangan (The Power of Women). This led to lead roles in films by Cheick Omar Sissoko,  Genesis (1999) and Dani Kouyaté’s Sia: The Dream of the Python (2001). This tells the story of Sia, a young girl who defies tradition, and for many in the region Fatou IS Sia thanks to the film’s enormous success.

Her family wanted her to settle down and refused to give her permission to join the renowned French theatre company, Royale de Luxe. But Fatou took the daring decision to run away and board a plane for Paris, narrowly escaping the police who had been alerted to the girl’s ‘kidnapping’.

With Royale de Luxe, Fatou performed a variety of roles around the world and took to singing between shows to amuse herself.  She was soon singing solos in the company’s performances. Fatou was invited back to Mali by Cheikh Tidiane Seck to work as a backing singer on two subsequently-acclaimed albums: Oumou Sangaré’s Seya (Grammy-nominated) and American jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater’s Red Earth (Grammy-winning).

Back in France, Fatou took a lead role in a West American themed musical. She was encouraged to take the role by her friend Rokia Traore who also inspired her to take up the guitar: “To me it was a wonderful and daring thing: a Malian girl with an acoustic guitar. Why should the guitar be only for men?” Fatou bought herself a guitar and started writing her own compositions.

Oumou Sangaré helped her get a record deal with World Circuit  to record her debut album, Fatou (2011). Many of the songs address female issues in Africa. She includes ‘Makoun Oumou’, a song dedicated to Oumou ”so that her example will always be remembered”. There are also important guests including Tony Allen on drums, Toumani Diabaté on kora, and even Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones on bass. The Guardian said: “It’s an enjoyable, impressive set, but now she must show if she really has the originality of Mali’s greatest female singers.”

Fatou has taken up that challenge in subsequent years. She became a regular contributor to Damon Albarn’s Africa Express events – singing to four and a half thousand people with Paul McCartney in 2012 – and was featured with Albarn, Tony Allen and Flea on Rocket Juice and the Moon (Honest Jon’s, 2012). She appeared in the Oscar-nominated film Timbuktu (2014) and documentary Mali Blues (2016) and started working with French producer Matthieu Chedid (aka M) who produced her most recent album.

Fenfo (Something to Say) was released in 2018 and the songs remain characteristically urgent and powerful. Fatou describes it as “Afro-futuristic” and it has been acclaimed in the wider pop and rock press. Since then she’s been busy promoting it in concert.

BIOGRAPHY

From the very beginning, Fatoumata Diawara, usually just known as ‘Fatou’, was headstrong, determined and talented. Before turning to music, she had major acting roles in film and theatre. Her rise on the music scene was swift – from releasing her debut Fatou (2011), to being THE new voice in West African music took just five years.

Fatou was born to Malian parents in the Ivory Coast in 1982. As a child she became a member of her father’s dance troupe, performing the wild didadi dance from Wassoulou, her ancestral home in western Mali. Her refusal to go to school prompted her parents to send her, aged 11, to be disciplined by an actress aunt in Bamako. She didn’t see her parents again for over a decade.

Spotted on the set of a film her aunt was acting in, she was given a one line part in Taafe Fangan (The Power of Women). This led to lead roles in films by Cheick Omar Sissoko,  Genesis (1999) and Dani Kouyaté’s Sia: The Dream of the Python (2001). This tells the story of Sia, a young girl who defies tradition, and for many in the region Fatou IS Sia thanks to the film’s enormous success.

Her family wanted her to settle down and refused to give her permission to join the renowned French theatre company, Royale de Luxe. But Fatou took the daring decision to run away and board a plane for Paris, narrowly escaping the police who had been alerted to the girl’s ‘kidnapping’.

With Royale de Luxe, Fatou performed a variety of roles around the world and took to singing between shows to amuse herself.  She was soon singing solos in the company’s performances. Fatou was invited back to Mali by Cheikh Tidiane Seck to work as a backing singer on two subsequently-acclaimed albums: Oumou Sangaré’s Seya (Grammy-nominated) and American jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater’s Red Earth (Grammy-winning).

Back in France, Fatou took a lead role in a West American themed musical. She was encouraged to take the role by her friend Rokia Traore who also inspired her to take up the guitar: “To me it was a wonderful and daring thing: a Malian girl with an acoustic guitar. Why should the guitar be only for men?” Fatou bought herself a guitar and started writing her own compositions.

Oumou Sangaré helped her get a record deal with World Circuit  to record her debut album, Fatou (2011). Many of the songs address female issues in Africa. She includes ‘Makoun Oumou’, a song dedicated to Oumou ”so that her example will always be remembered”. There are also important guests including Tony Allen on drums, Toumani Diabaté on kora, and even Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones on bass. The Guardian said: “It’s an enjoyable, impressive set, but now she must show if she really has the originality of Mali’s greatest female singers.”

Fatou has taken up that challenge in subsequent years. She became a regular contributor to Damon Albarn’s Africa Express events – singing to four and a half thousand people with Paul McCartney in 2012 – and was featured with Albarn, Tony Allen and Flea on Rocket Juice and the Moon (Honest Jon’s, 2012). She appeared in the Oscar-nominated film Timbuktu (2014) and documentary Mali Blues (2016) and started working with French producer Matthieu Chedid (aka M) who produced her most recent album.

Fenfo (Something to Say) was released in 2018 and the songs remain characteristically urgent and powerful. Fatou describes it as “Afro-futuristic” and it has been acclaimed in the wider pop and rock press. Since then she’s been busy promoting it in concert.

TOUR DATES
DateCityCountryVenueTickets
04/12/2021 8:00 pmOsloNorwayCosmopolite SceneTickets
03/12/2021 8:00 pmBergenNorwayUSF VerftetTickets
02/12/2021 8:00 pmStavangerNorwayFolkenTickets
01/12/2021 8:00 pmStockholmSwedenStockholm City TheatreTickets
27/11/2021 8:00 pmWarszawaPolandNIEBOTickets
26/11/2021 8:00 pmGdańskPolandKlub Muzyczny ParlamentTickets
24/11/2021 8:00 pmZagrebCroatiaBoogaloo ZagrebTickets
09/11/2021 8:30 pmTassin-la-demi-luneFrancel'AtriumTickets
06/11/2021 7:00 pmUtrechtNetherlandsTivoli VredenburgTickets
05/11/2021 8:00 pmBrusselsBelgiumAncienne BelgiqueTickets
16/10/2021 8:30 pmAbbevilleFranceTHEATRE MUNICIPAL D'ABBEVILLETickets
15/10/2021 7:00 pmMontpellierFranceThéâtre Jean-Claude CarrièreTickets
12/10/2021 9:30 pmCenonFranceLe Rocher de PalmerTickets
09/10/2021 8:00 pmFribourgSwitzerlandThéâtre EquilibreTickets
08/10/2021 8:00 pmMaisons-alfortFranceClaude Debussy TheatreTickets
06/10/2021 8:00 pmSaint-germain-en-layeFranceAlexandre Dumas TheatreTickets
05/10/2021 8:00 pmBéthuneFranceMunicipal Theatre BéthuneTickets
12/09/2021 8:00 pmStrasbourgFranceL'Afrique FestivalTickets
28/08/2021 8:00 pmLondonUnited KingdomYAM Carnival 2021Tickets
27/08/2021 8:00 pmEdinburghUnited KingdomThe Edinburgh International FestivalTickets
16/08/2021 8:00 pmBaselSwitzerlandMusiksaal StadtcasinoTickets
06/08/2021 8:00 pmCrozonFranceFestival Du Bout Du MondeTickets
04/08/2021 9:00 pmSèteFranceTHEATRE DE LA MERTickets
27/07/2021 9:30 pmRomaItalyVilla Ada ParkTickets
26/07/2021 8:00 pmLjubljanaSloveniaDruga godba zavod za organizacijo in izvedbo kulturnih prireditevTickets
24/07/2021 8:30 pmCajarcFranceFestival AfricajarcTickets
22/07/2021 8:00 amMalmesburyUnited KingdomWOMAD Charlton ParkTickets
17/07/2021 6:00 pmZurichSwitzerlandMoodsTickets
16/07/2021 8:00 pmMontreuxSwitzerlandMontreux Jazz Festival 2021Tickets
11/07/2021 3:00 pmBoulogne-billancourtFranceFestival Chorus 2021Tickets
07/07/2021 8:00 pmMarseille 07FranceTHEATRE SILVAINTickets
05/07/2021 8:00 pmBarcelonaSpainTeatre GrecTickets
29/06/2021 8:00 pmBolognaItalyDUMBOTickets
26/06/2021 12:00 amAvoineFrancePlein AirTickets
15/06/2021 5:00 pmToulouseFrancePrairie des FiltresTickets
RELEASES
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