Renowned Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara to appear May 5

April 26, 2016

Northfield audiences will have a rare opportunity to be serenaded by world-renowned Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara on Thursday, May 5 beginning at 8 p.m. in the Carleton College Concert Hall.

Hailing from Mali’s Ivory Coast and currently residing in France, Fatoumata Diawara (aka Fatou)—whom The Telegraph calls “the most beguiling talent to hit the world music scene in some time” and Mojo calls a "spell-weaving new voice"—uses elements of jazz, pop, and funk along with her ancestral Wassoulou tradition.

Fatou fought her parents’ opposition to her artistic career, and her culture’s attitudes toward women, to act in theater and film before beginning her musical career. She sang backup for, among others, fellow Malian and labelmate Oumou Sangare before striking out on her own. Her lyrics touch on such serious and personal subjects as female circumcision, a woman’s right to choose her spouse, and the songwriter’s own painful experience with the African practice of being raised away from her parents.

In addition to her own constant global touring, she has performed with Africa Express, AfroCubism, Bobby Womack, Herbie Hancock’s Imagine project, Paul McCartney, and Damon Albarn’s new super-group Rocket Juice and the Moon (with Tony Allen and Flea).

In Sept of 2013 when all music apart from Quranic chanting was banned by armed jihadi groups in the northern two thirds of Mali, Fatou gathered a group of more than 40 Malian musicians in the face of the Islamist insurgency to record a song calling for peace, thus earning her the title of New African magazine's hundred most influential Africans of 2013. More at

This event is sponsored by Special Projects Africa, GEI, Humanities, AFAM, Arts at Carleton, and the Department of French and Francophone Studies. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4475. The Carleton College Concert Hall is located on First Street, between Nevada and Winona Streets, in Northfield.