Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara (aka Fatou) was born of Malian parents in the Ivory Coast in 1982. As a child she became a member of her father's dance troupe and was a popular performer of the wildly flailing didadi dance from Wassoulou, her ancestral home in western Mali. She was an energetic and headstrong girl and at the age of twelve her refusal to go to school finally prompted her parents to send her to live and be disciplined by an aunt in Bamako. She was not to see her parents again for more than a decade.
Off on her own, Fatou discovered acting and performed in 11 films, including “Timbuktu,” which played Cannes and was nominated for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. The NY Times ranked it 12th on its 2017 list of “the best films of the 21st century, so far.”
Fatou also performed a variety of roles on stage, around the world, including tours in Vietnam, Mexico and throughout Europe. During rehearsals and quiet moments she took to singing backstage for her own amusement. She was overheard by a director and was soon singing solo during the company's performances. Encouraged by the audience reception, she began to sing in Parisian clubs and cafes during breaks from touring.
Audiences, critics, and producers immediately responded to her exceptional talent and before long she was touring and recording albums, including 'Seya' the GRAMMY nominated-album by Mali's star Oumou Sangaré and 'Red Earth' the GRAMMY-winning Malian project by celebrated American jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater. When each of these albums were released Fatou toured worldwide as singer and dancer with both projects.
On her return to France, Fatou took the role of Karaba in the popular touring musical 'Kirikou and Karaba'. 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 to teach herself, and at the same time began to write down her own compositions. Fatoumata’s EP ‘Kanou’ was released in May 2011, followed by her debut full length album ‘Fatou’ in September 2011, to much critical acclaim. The album was awarded No.1 album 2011 on the world music charts, where it remained for 6 months. It was also given No.1 in several end-of-year album polls including The Times of London and Mojo.
Fatoumata Diawara continues to make waves around the world for her multiple talents. In addition to performing with the legendary Dee Dee Bridgewater, Fatoumata has also performed with Herbie Hancock and Paul McCartney, among many others.
“Classy, powerful, soulful and expressive” – London Guardian
“Fatoumata Diawara's know-how, musicality, and sense of self all come together, and prove her to be one of the most dynamic voices in Afropop today.” -- Pop Matters