By Fatoumata DiawaraUpdated Feb 2020
Fatoumata Diawara (born 1982 in Ivory Coast) is a Malian actor, singer-songwriter and multiple Grammy Award nominee currently living in France. She received two nominations at the 61st Annual Grammy…
Fatoumata Diawara (born 1982 in Ivory Coast) is a Malian actor, singer-songwriter and multiple Grammy Award nominee currently living in France. She received two nominations at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards for Best World Music Album for her album Fenfo and Best Dance Recording for Ultimatum featuring the English band Disclosure.
Born in the Ivory Coast to Malian parents, Diawara moved to France to pursue acting, appearing in Cheick Oumar Sissoko's 1999 feature film Genesis, Dani Kouyaté's popular 2001 film Sia, le rêve du python, in the internationally renowned street theatre troupe Royal de Luxe, and played a leading role in the musical Kirikou et Karaba. She later took up the guitar and began composing her own material, writing songs that blend Wassoulou traditions of southern Mali with international influences. Noted for her "sensuous voice," she has performed or recorded with Malian and international greats such as Cheick Tidiane Seck, Oumou Sangaré, AfroCubism, Dee Dee Bridgewater (on Red Earth: A Malian Journey), and the Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou. The EP Kanou was released May 9, 2011, and her debut album Fatou from World Circuit Records was released in September 2011. (Nonesuch Records released the Kanou EP digitally in North America on September 27, 2011, and the album Fatou on August 28, 2012.)
In September 2012, she featured in a campaign called "30 Songs / 30 Days" to support Half the Sky, a multi-platform media project inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book. September 2012 also saw her board the Africa Express Train with Damon Albarn, Rokia Traoré, Baaba Maal, Amadou & Mariam, Nicolas Jaar, and the Noisettes, amongst many others. The show culminated in a 4.5k venue in Kings Cross where Fatoumata performed with Paul McCartney.
Fatoumata has spent the recent years touring the world, with a landmark performance for the English-speaking public at Glastonbury 2013. Alongside many European gigs her schedule has taken her to South America, Asia and Australia as well as on multiple trips to the US, where in September 2013 she performed as part of the Clinton Global Initiative alongside The Roots in New York. Since mid-2014 she has been in collaboration with Roberto Fonseca, with numerous live performances and a joint live album, At Home - Live in Marciac, along the way. In 2014 she also extended her list of collaborations by a joint performance with Mayra Andrade and Omara Portuondo. February 2015 saw her first live concert as a meanwhile established international name back home at the Festival Sur Le Niger in Ségou, Mali, where she shared the stage once again with her long-time friend and mentor, Oumou Sangaré; Bassekou Kouyate; and many other domestic acts.
Alongside, she has continued her cinematic activities, with numerous roles, appearances and musical input in multiple feature films, such as the seven times César Award winning and Academy Award nominated 2014 Timbuktu.