Black Atlantic: Fatoumata Diawara
Fatoumata Diawara is poised to become one of Africa's most significant international stars in decades. Born to Malian parents in Côte d'Ivoire, Diawara became a well-known child actor back in Mali. At the age of nineteen, she decamped to France, pursuing a career with a street-theater company that, in turn, led her to pick up a guitar and explore the sounds of her homeland. Before long, she was collaborating with Malian diva Oumou Sangaré, jazz legend Herbie Hancock, and Blur cofounder Damon Albarn, and she had signed with World Circuit. Diawara's 2012 debut, 'Fatou,' was a simmering folksong beauty, updating Mali's Wassoulou tradition with a sheen of R&B in which her conversational alto wrapped like smoke around serpentine guitars and driving polyrhythms. Her 2018 follow-up, 'Nterini,' strides toward African pop music, with bold beats and sophisticated arrangements.