Fatoumata Diawara

Fatoumata Diawara, aka Fatou, is a Malian singer. She was born to Malian parents in Ivory Coast in 1982. She was a dancer in her father’s troupe as a child and became popular for her didadi dancing from Wassoulou (her ancestral home in western Mali). At twelve years old, she was a determined and strong girl. Her parents sent her to Bamako to be disciplined and live with an aunt. Over a decade later, she never saw her parents again. Fatou was an actress and found herself on set caring for her aunt’s infant child a few years later. Fatou’s beauty as an adolescent was captivating the film’s director, who gave her a single line in the final scene of ‘Taafe Fangan (‘The Power of Women”) Cheick Omar Silsoko, a celebrated director, gave her the lead role in 1999’s film “La Genese” (Genesis). Fatou, then eighteen, travelled to Paris in order to play the classic Greek role of Antigone. After touring the country with the production, Fatou returned to Mali, where she was cast in Dani Kouyate’s 2001 film, ‘Sia, The Dream of the Python.’ The story tells the tale of Sia, a West African legend who is a young girl who challenges tradition. Many in Mali, Guinea and Senegal consider Fatou Sia because of the film’s huge success across the region. Although Fatou received many offers for acting roles, her family insisted that she settle down and marry. She then announced, live on Malian television that she would no longer be an actress. Jean-Louis Courcoult (director of Royale de Luxe in France) visited Fatou to offer her a role in his production. A Malian woman who is unmarried is considered minor by the Malian society. Her family was therefore required to give her permission. They refused. After soul-searching, Fatou decided to run. At Bamako airport, she boarded a plane to Paris. She narrowly escaped the pursuit by the police who were alerted about the girl’s “kidnapping”. Fatou played a variety roles with Royal de Luxe, including tours throughout Europe, Vietnam, and Mexico. She began singing backstage during rehearsals and other quiet moments for her amusement. The director heard her singing and she soon sang solo during company performances. She began singing in Parisian cafes and clubs during her touring breaks, encouraged by the positive reception. Cheikh Tidiane Seck, a Malian producer and musician, invited her to accompany him to Mali to perform on two projects. ‘Seya’ was the GRAMMY nominated Album by Oumou Sangare. ‘Red Earth’ is the GRAMMY winning Malian project of Dee Dee Bridgewater. Fatou was a worldwide singer/dancer when both albums were released. Fatou was asked to play the role of Karaba by the French touring musical, ‘Kirikou and Karaba. Rokia Traore, her friend encouraged her to accept the role. Rokia also inspired Fatou to learn the guitar. Why should the guitar only be for men? Fatou purchased a guitar for herself and began to learn. She also started writing her own music. Fatou decided to devote herself to music, her passion. She completed an album of songs, and began recording demos. Oumou Sangare introduced her to World Circuit, and she signed a record contract with World Circuit. She also recorded her debut album. She also found time to sing on Damon Albarn’s Africa Express, as well as contribute vocals to albums by Cheikh L, AfroCubism and Orchestra Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. Fatou’s EP “Kanou” was released in May. Her debut album, “Fatou”, was released 19 September 2011. It received much critical acclaim. It was No.1 in the world music charts for 2011, where it remained for six months. It also ranked No.1 in many end-of-the-year album polls, including Mojo and The Times. After the album’s release, Fatoumata performed in Damon Albarn’s album and live project “Rocket Juice and the Moon” (Honest Jon’s), which featured Tony Allen, Flea and himself. Roberto Fonseca’s latest release ‘YO’ was also featured on Fatou’s album The Bravest Man in The Universe’ (XL), which was co-produced Damon Albarn, Richard Russell and Flea. Fatou 2012 boarded with Damon Albarn and Baaba Maal, Amamdou, Mariam, Nicolas Jaar and many other musicians on the Africa Express Train in September 2012. Each venue sold out in the tour’s first leg. The show ended in Kings Cross, where Fatou and Paul McCartney performed. from www.fatoumatadiawara.fr

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