Listen to RFI News
Expand Player
 
Listen Download Podcast
  • Paris Live PM 14h00 - 15h00 GMT
    News bulletin 12/12 14h00 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h00 - 15h00 GMT
    News bulletin 12/11 14h00 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h00 - 15h00 GMT
    News bulletin 12/10 14h00 GMT
To take full advantage of multimedia content, you must have the Flash plugin installed in your browser. To connect, you need to enable cookies in your browser settings. For an optimal navigation, the RFI site is compatible with the following browsers: Internet Explorer 8 and above, Firefox 10 and +, Safari 3+, Chrome 17 and + etc.

Mali's Fatoumata Diawara has a lot to say

Mali's Fatoumata Diawara has a lot to say
 
Diawara in video for the song Nterini on the Fenfo album, shot by Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh. ©Aida Muluneh

Seven years after her acclaimed debut album Fatou, the Malian singer songwriter and actress Fatoumata Diawara has released Fenfo meaning "something to say" in her native Bambara language. The Paris-based star talks to RFI about taking pride in African heritage, sexuality and why it was time to forgive her parents for the past.

"Fatou was about introducing myself, telling people who I am," Diawara told RFI. "Fenfo is telling people what I've become."

For a start she's become a mother and is proud of it. She's also enlarged her essentially wassoulou folk repertoire to include blues, afrobeat, rock and pop.

Fenfo was co-produced with France's Mathieu Chedid aka M and he's clearly fuelled the funk-rock side. She's also worked alongside British singer/producer Damon Albarn on Africa Express, Nigerian afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, Herbie Hancock, Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca and French cellist Vincent Segal.

They've all "fed into the album in some way" she adds.

While many African artists with international careers record at least a few songs in English, Diawara celebrates her native Bambara.

"My relationship with music is all about healing, sharing energy, connecting with people, being generous," she explains. "When I’m on stage, even if it’s only for an hour or so I want people to travel with me, up into the clouds. So if I can’t be in my element, there’s no point. When I sing in Bambara I feel real."

Fatoumata Diawara with French musician Matthieu Chedid in Bamako, 26 January 2017. SEBASTIEN RIEUSSEC / AFP

Diawara has become a significant voice on the African continent, something of a role model for many young people.

"I’m a survivor, I’ve battled all my life," she says in reference to bouts of depression after being abandoned by her parents.

"I try to dialogue with young people, to be their voice and represent all these women who quite simply haven’t managed to be everything they wanted to be because they’re weighed down by tradition. And not just in Africa!"

Diawara performs at Jazz in Marciac, 8 August; Le Trianon, Paris, 11 December.

Watch the standout video for the song Nterini, shot by Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh.

Follow her on facebook

 


Related

  • World music matters

    Malian artist Oumou Sangaré releases new album Mogoya

    Learn more

  • World music matters

    Mali's Rokia Traoré sings of home

    Learn more

  • World music matters

    American folk singer-songwriter Alela Diane offers an ode to motherhood

    Learn more

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. ...
  5. next >
  6. last >
Features
 
Sorry but the period of time connection to the operation is exceeded.