Not just another crooner

I always sing for myself. On stage I am giving and sharing energy with the people’’ says Mali singer Fatoumata Diawara.An untrammelled spirit, Fatou (that’s how she likes to be called), gives many definitions of ‘being free’.

“I want all women to be free, not free in the sense that we were when we were eighteen, doing drugs or partying all the time, but to be free, be women,’’ she says.
The 32-year-old Mali singer performed her ethnic Wassoulou music, a kind of blues, at Blue Frog in the Capital recently, the first stop of her five-city tour in India. She will be performing at Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune later this month. Fatoumata did not use the traditional instrument kamele ngoni but her guitar to make the audience go into a trance while conveying messages of freedom and empowerment through her songs.

Fatou’s life is inspirational. A story that needs to be told to infuse hope and encouragement. She left school and ran away from home to pursue a career in acting when she was a teenager. This was also to escape the demands society placed on women in her country where they were made to marry at an early age. Called for a theatre part in the famous Royale de Leuxe, Fatou just left. Since then she has performed in some of the greatest French plays, including the Kirikou and Karaba where she essayed the role of Karaba, the evil one.

When asked what was her true passion, since her progression from an actor to singer and dancer, Fatou said, “I was dancing from the first day I was born”, a talent she inherited from her mother “who was also a very good dancer, but had to leave her passion to get married and raise children.” Not surprising, she feels she is “just living my Mom’s dream.”

Though she loved dancing, music was very dear to her heart and her true passion. She gave herself to the art completely. “But I still dance when I play. I think of my
village and the memories of
my childhood.’’

This is her second visit to India and she loves the Indian audience, “they dance, they play and sing and I love it.’’

“Music is the universal language of hope and harmony. Music is strong and spi­-
r­itual. Tonight was magical. I could feel the love of the audience in my veins. I am overjoyed to be able to let my tunes float in this air and dissolve my rhythms with the culture of India. The musical landscape in India is rich, bountiful and inspirational.”

She added that she has a huge list of songs she keeps listening to and Indian classical music is also one of her favourites, “I love Anoushka Shankar and Ravi Shankar, I cannot understand how he can be so good!’’

Fatou says that Indian music also has “pentatonic rhythms and sounds, very
similar to sounds of Wassalou in the regions of Africa, and they understand Indian music very well.”

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